ROSEBURG — For the second straight year, North Coos is Oregon’s American Legion baseball single-A state champion.
It took two games Wednesday, but the Waterfront beat Alpenrose Dairy of Portland 12-2 in the winner-take-all afternoon contest to repeat as champs after the Red Sox held off North Coos 7-6 in the opener.
“It’s crazy,” said AJ Stoltey. “It feels good.”
Next up, the Pacific Northwest regionals in Cody, Wyoming, starting next Friday.
North Coos had two more big offensive games and two more strong defensive games and two more good pitching efforts — matching the method for the team’s wins the first four days of the tournament at Roseburg’s Legion Field.
“We really came out and performed well,” said North Coos catcher Ian Spalding. “We had good pitching every day and we really had the bats.”
How good was North Coos at the plate over the five days of the tournament? All six games, the Waterfront had at least 11 hits.
“We put up a lot of hits,” said Brylee Anderson, who pitched a complete game in the afternoon contest to clinch the state title. “Being able to tack on runs was a key.”
North Coos coach Brad Horning saved Anderson and, if needed, Jared Northrop for the final game of the tournament, knowing his pitching staff has great depth. In the first game, he started Brendon Roberts, who hadn’t pitched since the high school season back in 2017.
Roberts struggled to find the strike zone early, but did fairly well, except for a pair of two-run doubles that helped Alpenrose Dairy open a 7-1 lead. The first, a second-inning liner to the left-center gap by Zach Lewis, brought in two runners who had walked earlier in the inning. The second, a two-out hit by Conner Mayfield in the third, could have been an out, but North Coos left fielder Bridger Holmes slipped trying to come in on the ball and couldn’t reach up and corral it with his glove.
That turned out to be the final pitch thrown by Roberts, and Horning brought in Corbin White, who hadn’t pitched during the American Legion season and barely pitched more than Roberts the past two high school seasons.
But White didn’t allow a hit over the final three innings. Alpenrose Dairy managed just four hits in the opener, and one of those was a bunt single when nobody got over to cover first base in time for the Waterfront. But the Red Sox also took advantage of 11 free passes — nine walks and two hit batters.
North Coos nearly rallied to end the tournament in the first game, with another big inning.
In the fourth, Holmes and Jacob Chaney hit back-to-back singles and Roberts yanked a double into the right field corner to score Holmes. White and Anderson added RBI singles and another run came in on an error as North Coos cut the lead to 7-5. Another run came in on a two-out error in the sixth and North Coos loaded the bases in the seventh before Devan Knight got a strikeout to end the game and force the afternoon contest.
The Red Sox won the opener despite being out-hit 12-4 as North Coos failed to capitalize on a number of opportunities, stranding 11 on base in the game. Nine times, one of the first three batters in the North Coos lineup reached base and did not score. Only Anderson managed a run out of the trio, scoring twice — in the sixth inning after a walk and in the third after a single, when he came home on a sacrifice fly by Jake Simmons.
Before Wednesday’s opener, North Coos had not trailed in the tournament. The Waterfront made sure it didn’t happen in the final game, scoring three runs in each of the first two innings to build an early 6-0 advantage.
Tyler Thornton, who was the strikeout victim to end the first game, took out his frustrations in the second with three hits and two runs, sparking the surge in both the first and second innings.
“I took it to heart,” he said. “I knew I had to come back.”
He lined a one-out single to start the first and Simmons was safe on catcher’s interference. Spalding, who had a hot bat all tournament but struggled in the first game, singled to load the bases and Holmes hit an RBI single, Chaney and RBI fielder’s choice and Roberts and RBI single.
Thornton was up again with one out in the second and smashed a ball over the centerfielder. He never looked up rounding second to see Horning’s stop sign from the third-base coaches box and easily made it to the bag for a triple.
Simmons singled to bring him in and stole second. Spalding hit his second single and Simmons scored on an error and Chaney had an RBI single.
And given the cushion and the strong defense — North Coos had only one error Wednesday and four in the tournament — Anderson was cruising on the mound.
“The defense was awesome,” he said. “We’ve got a good defense behind us. It makes it a lot easier to throw the ball out there.”
He gave up two runs in the third, when Alpenrose Dairy got two of its four hits in the game, but got the Red Sox out in order in the first, fifth and sixth innings and came up with fly outs with runners on to end the other two.
In contrast, North Coos never went down 1-2-3 in any inning of either game.
The Waterfront added three runs in the fourth, when Spalding hit his third single, Holmes walked, Chaney beat out a bunt single, Stoltey smashed a two-run single to left and Anderson hit a sacrifice fly.
Another run came in in the fifth on a two-out error after Spalding had reached on a walk and moved up on singles by Holmes and Chaney. Between them, Spalding and his courtesy runner, Hunter Wheeling, had four runs in the game.
North Coos put the game away without giving up an out in the sixth. White had a single to lead off the inning, Anderson followed with another single and Thornton hit an RBI single to score Northrup, who was running for White. After Simmons was walked to load the bases, Spalding had his fourth hit to drive in Anderson with the clinching run.
That capped an amazing week for Spalding, who finished the six games with nine hits, 11 runs and eight RBIs.
Like Thornton, he was frustrated after not having a good game at the plate in Wednesday’s opener.
“I just really calmed myself down and went back to the basics (in the second game) and did what I needed to do,” he said.
Horning noted it was fitting Spalding drove in the clinching run after catching every inning at what the coach described as a difficult home plate, with one edge slightly raised.
“We called him our goaltender this week,” Horning said.
Spalding, who calls all the pitches during the games, credited the players on the mound as a key to the North Coos success during the tournament.
“It was very consistent,” he said. “In the zone, and good velocity by a lot of guys.”
Horning noted that none of the pitchers who took the mound for North Coos during the tournament threw a pitch when the Waterfront won the title last year.
He had hoped to get Northrop an inning or two.
“We had no quarrels if we had to throw Northrop, but Brylee threw so well,” he said.
Now North Coos prepares to head to Wyoming with a number of returning players and a number going for the first time.
“It’s (going to be) a great experience,” said Thornton, one of the newcomers. “It’s great to play more baseball.”
Horning, too, will be going for the first time. He was on a pre-scheduled family vacation last summer.
“I didn’t go last year,” he said. “I’m so looking forward to it.”
Area residents can help defray the costs for the trip at a car wash scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Ken Ware Chevrolet in North Bend.
Alpenrose Dairy 7, North Coos 6
Brendon Roberts, Corbin White (3) and Ian Spalding; Bodie Starr, Lukas Telles (1), Devan Knight (7) and Jack Hunter. 2B—NC: Roberts; Alp: Zach Lewis, Connor Mayfield.
North Coos 12, Alpenrose Dairy 2
Devan Knight, Gus Livermore (3), Ben Fennell (7) and Jack Hunter; Brylee Anderson and Ian Spalding. 3B—NC: Tyler Thornton.