By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore– Call it a comeback LL Cool J.
To make the all NW Vandals finale plausible Saturday night, the Vandals 18U dug deep down 7-1 to wheel off nine unanswered runs to stun the Clark County Breeze.
The power bats of the oldest squad featured home runs by Central’s Mariah Hyre and Scio’s Kasidee Parazoo to set the pace offensively as their defense settled in with Grace Schaecher coming in for relief of Gracee Wright.
“I thought we did a phenomenal job just focusing on base hits and do work,” said Parazoo. “It exactly panned out like we wanted it too, but I had fun. We played good, we got a bunch of studs and I’m excited and thankfully to be playing with the Vandals.”
On the field next to them at Wallace Marine Park, their 16U counterparts built a 4-1 lead to hold on to hold on to defeat the Oregon Red Heat 03 6-3.
The 18’s took over the Red Heat and continued their hot hand into the second inning against their younger counterparts. Leading 3-1 before the scrappy Vandals 16U team chipped away and took the lead by the end of the top half of the second inning; turning the two-run hole into a 5-3 lead. The lead ballooned to 7-3 entering the bottom of the third and into the fourth it held as the 16’s defense continued to find ways to keep the power out of the 18’s bats.
“It was really amazing. We’ve been practicing really hard and to see that come together today, it’s beautiful and I’m really happy to see us get the win,” said Kiani Nakamura. “We can come off the bat firing with high energy. It can take us a few innings and I would like to see that change moving into next week.”
Nakamura hit two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning against the Oregon Red Heat 03 16, Reagan Davis joined Nakamura with a homer the next inning as an extra insurance run for the Vandals.
With the amount of home runs hit by both teams Friday and Saturday at Wallace, 11 total entering the Championship game, neither got one beyond the outfield fence. The Vandals 16 collected four doubles and the Vandals 18’s Kaili Saathoff collected a double herself in the game as the only extra base hits by the two squads in the Stripes Bracket Championship game.
Saathoff went 2-for-2 in the Title game for the Vandals 18. Zoe Allen, Abbi Covalt, Lena Zahniser and Davis each collected two hits each. Covalt had a game-high 2RBI’s as the Vandals 16 expanded their lead to 11-3 by games end. Scoring twice in the third and four times in the fourth when the drop-dead time was announced.
After the game, both teams created a giant circle around the infield dirt, spacing out with social distancing as the goal is to have both teams in these 16/18 tournaments play together in the Championship game. To make it a habit of the two teams reaching this point.
“When we do get into tournament, we are saying that this is how it’s going to end up at the end,” said Nakamura.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald