SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — The feeling in the Cascade Little League dugout didn’t match what the Al Houghton Stadium scoreboard read Thursday morning.
Just to prove it, Cascade mounted a comeback that was one big hit short of something historic.
Cascade spotted its Columbia River neighbor a nine-run lead and then rallied in the bottom of the sixth inning, getting the tying run to the plate before falling, 10-6, to Portland’s Wilshire-Riverside Little League in the Northwest Regional.
The Oregon state champ advanced straight to Saturday’s Northwest title game. Cascade must play a consolation game at noon Friday against West Valley Little League of Eagle, Idaho — a northern suburb of Boise — and the winner of that game meets Oregon on Saturday. Both games will be televised on ESPN.
“We never felt like we were really out of it,” Cascade manager Mark Hodory said. “But as a coach, I’m like, ‘Man, nine runs in a long way to come back.’ “
And his team almost did it.
Wilshire-Riverside was pitted to a 10-1 lead, thanks mostly to No. 3 hitter Spencer Scott, who went 4-for-4 with two home runs and three RBI.
In the sixth for Cascade, Issac Hodory, Lucas Horowitz, Micah Foskett and Travis Wiese all reached base to lead off the inning, and No. 1 hitter Carter Monda singled off the Oregon third baseman after the inning’s first run scored on a passed ball.
Mason Hill’s bases-loaded walk made it 10-5, and Issac Hodory’s bloop single made it 10-6 while keeping the bases loaded. Up came Lucas Horowitz, who hit a walkoff, game-winning three-run home run in the Washington state quarterfinal win over Auburn.
“With Lucas at the plate, there was the belief that we needed just one swing of the bat,” Mark Hodory said.
Horowitz battled Scott, who had entered the game three batters before to relieve, but Scott got him on a strikeout to end the game.
“We had finally started getting it, but it was just too big a hole to come back from,” Hodory said.
Oregon made the most of its eight hits, led by Scott, who has four homers in this tournament, and Cooper Shaw, who drove in two runs. Starting pitcher Dylan MacLean struck out seven and allowed four hits in 4 1/3 sharp innings in which he stranded six Washington baserunners.
“That’s a little more like how we do it,” Wilshire-Riverside manager Matt Farr said. “We like to pitch to contact, and play ‘D,’ and hit the ball.”
Asked what his approach was on a near-perfect day, Scott said, “just be disciplined and have really good at-bats.”
The road will be tough for Cascade. It must get past a strong-hitting Idaho team Friday, which it did defeat 5-0 in its opener. Win that, and it would get one more shot at Wilshire-Riverside at noon Saturday with a forecasted high of 106 degrees and most of Inland Southern California under an excessive heat warning through the weekend.
“We’re just super proud that a couple of teams from the greater Portland metro area are in it,” Farr said. “We’ll battle our faces off to take them down, but if we didn’t win it, we’d sure like to see another Portland-area metro team go to the World Series. That would be neat.”