NORTH BEND — One day made a bunch of difference for the South Coast Rebels in the Southern Oregon State Babe Ruth Tournament at Clyde Allen Field.
The morning after getting drubbed by Klamath Falls 14-1 in the 14-year-old prep division of the tournament, the Rebels bounced back, battling the same Klamath Falls club into the seventh inning before coming up just short 7-6.
Klamath Falls claimed the state title, but South Coast also advances to the Pacific Northwest regional tournament in West Linn because one of the other parts of the region opted not to send a team.
“It was a much better effort,” South Coast manager Erick Kirchner said, before giving credit to Klamath Falls.
“That’s a great team,” he said.
Klamath Falls battled back from a 4-1 deficit with four runs in the fifth inning, then added two in the sixth after the Rebels had tied the game.
“We definitely struggled,” said Leo Ahalt, who had two big hits for Klamath Falls. “But we rallied. We just didn’t quit.”
South Coast got on the scoreboard early with two runs in the top of the first inning, when Drake Rogers and Troy Warner both walked and came home on a single by Carter Brock. The Rebels struck for two more runs in the fourth, again with players reaching base by walks and eventually scoring. David Roberts came home on a balk by Klamath Falls pitcher Noah Daley and Tyler Hayes scored on a double by Rogers.
Klamath Falls scored a run in the first when Jayden Backer singled and Ahalt hit a double.
But Klamath Falls had two runners thrown out on the bases in the third and then missed a golden opportunity in the fourth.
Daley crushed a triple to center field, just beating the relay throw to third. Hunter Schwenk and Rowdy Gordon both were hit by pitches to load the bases. But Daley was out at home on a comebacker to the mound and South Coast pitcher Daniel Cabrera then had two strikeouts to get out of the inning.
Klamath Falls broke through in the fifth, though, going in front 5-4 with four runs on just two hits.
Sam Hombeck was hit by a pitch to start the inning, Ahalt had a one-out walk, Nathan Baker crushed a double to score both runners, Daley hit a single to left and both Baker and Daley scored on wild pitches.
South Coast tied the score in the top of the sixth, when Beto Cortez managed a nine-pitch walk to start the inning, fouling off three two-strike pitches before drawing ball four. Cortez moved to second on a bad pickoff throw and third on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball.
But Ahalt had one more big hit in the bottom of the sixth, a two-out double to score both Hombeck, who had singled, and Backer, who had reached on a fielder’s choice.
The Rebels fought to the end. Brock, who had two hits in the game, walked to lead off the seventh, moved to second on a passed ball and third on a groundout, and scored on a single by Roberts. Jack Burgmeier followed with a single and both Roberts and Burgmeier moved up on an error.
Klamath Falls got a strikeout and a groundout to end the threat and complete the win.
“It was fun,” said Ahalt, who was looking ahead to the regionals. “I’ve played with these guys for six or seven years.”
For South Coast, the game was a big improvement from Friday’s effort.
“Cabrera pitched amazing,” Kirchner said. “They all stepped up. The errors were down. They stepped up and made plays.
“We answered the bell. It’s a great momentum builder.”
“I’m happy with how we played,” he said. “Our pitching came alive. Our bats came alive.”
The regional tournament starts July 21 at West Linn.
Klamath Falls 7, South Coast 6
Daniel Cabrera, Troy Warner (5), Cabrera (5), Jack Burgmeier (6) and Carter Brock; Noah Daley, Hunter Schwenk (5) and Sam Hombeck. 2B—SC: Drake Rogers; KF: Leo Ahalt 2, Nathan Baker. 3B—KF: Daley.