Contributed photo/Tara Donivan
Team Pepsi scored a 2-1 victory over Hattenhauer Distributing to lock down The Dalles Little League city championship Saturday at Kramer Field in The Dalles. In the photo are, from left to right, starting at the top, Ken Brock (assistant coach), Nolan Donivan, Dylan Titus, Riley Brock, Cooper Klindt, Sterling Coburn, Tyler Miles, Ben Donivan (manager) and Nolan McCall. On the bottom are, from left to right, Cannon Dorzab, Izaiah Dingman, Leo Leman, Jack McAllister, Xiovanni Orion, Trey Hodges and Gabe Castillo.
Several of the majors-division players were playing in their final Little League baseball game.
Pitchers Riley Brock and Luciano Alvarado made sure to make it a memorable one.
Both hurlers combined to allow three runs on eight hits, with one walk and 21 strikeouts.
Brock, representing Pepsi, outdueled Alvarado in the end, as he limited Hattenhauer Distributing to one earned run on two hits with no walks and 12 strikeouts in a 2-1 victory Saturday at Kramer Field in The Dalles.
“Today’s game was great,” Hattenhauer Distributing manager Steven Begay said. “We expected it to be a pitching battle between both pitchers and we knew it was also going to be a defensive battle. It came down to who was going to hit the ball. They happened to hit the ball a little more than us and then we didn’t make plays that we should have.”
At one point in the game, from the second-through-fourth innings, Brock retired seven in a row, until a one-out double by Cooper Cummings, who later scored on a wild pitch to draw Hattenhauer Distributing to within a 2-1 deficit.
After allowing that fourth-inning run, Brock shut down six consecutive batters, but then surrendered a one-out, bloop double to right field by Aaron Childers in the top of the sixth.
With the tying run in scoring position and one out, Brock had to walk the tightrope against the top of the Hattenhauer Distributing order.
Brock posted a strikeout and induced a game-ending comebacker to seal Pepsi’s city championship.
“They have some pretty good hitters on their team. I was able to work in my curveball in on fastball counts and I worked good with my catcher,” Brock said. “I knew it wasn’t going to be the easiest, but I just needed to be calm and not as nervous. I think I am lot better and I hit my spots better and I pitch better when I have that mindset.”
Pepsi scored a run in the bottom of the second inning on back-to-back singles from Dylan Titus and Tyler Miles. Titus later crossed the plate on a wild pitch.
Clinging to that one-run advantage in the bottom of the third, Jack McAllister reached on a one-out walk, moved to second base on a wild pitch and scored after an RBI double to right by Cannon Dorzab.
Brock chipped in two hits from the No. 3 spot, and Titus, Pepsi’s No. 5 hitter, was 1 for 2 with a run scored.
Pepsi’s bottom of the order played a big role in the win, as that group contributed a single, a triple, a double, a walk, a run scored and an RBI in nine combined at-bats.
Miles was 1 for 2, Sterling Coburn added a triple in two at-bats, McAllister walked and scored a run, and Dorzab finished 1 for 1 with a double and an RBI.
“We have had that a lot. We don’t know who is going to show up that day, but luckily, in every game, we have had somebody different in the batting order show up, whether it is the bottom of the order, the middle of the order or the top,” Pepsi manager Ben Donivan said.
“Today, it was the middle to the bottom of the order that came through for us. That’s what we have preached all season long. Somebody needs to start it, because if one guy gets a hit, then hitting is contagious. You want to be that guy,” he explained.
Cummings rapped out a double and a run scored in three at-bats and Childers was 1 for 2 with a double, as Hattenhauer Distributing left one runner on base and had another runner picked off first base.
Alvarado gave up six hits, walked a batter and struck out nine in his complete-game effort and both runs the right-hander allowed were earned.
Twice during the game, Alvarado retired four batters in a row, in the third and fourth and the fourth and fifth frames.
“Both pitchers threw well all year long,” coach Begay said. “Luciano has been up and down all season, but today, he came out throwing. I talked to him after we used our top pitcher to get to the championship, and I told him that he had to be prepared and positive that he was going to have a good game. It was great to see him step up the way he did.”
Pepsi middle infielder and leadoff hitter, Nolan Donivan, walks away from Little League as a two-time champion and will carry on that winning legacy through Little League all-stars, up to the Babe Ruth ranks, the high school level and beyond.
“It is a big deal, because there is like 12,000 people in The Dalles and when you are one of 13 that win a city championship, it is something we can be proud of,” Nolan Donivan said. “It is hard to do. It takes a lot of focus and practice and a lot of effort goes into it.”