SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — For Robley Corsi Jr., the unknown wasn’t so scary after all.
The Pacific Little League All-Stars of Lynnwood spotted Bend, Ore., two early runs before roaring back Friday morning to win 10-2 in both teams’ Little League Northwest Regional opener at Al Houghton Stadium.
Playing in the very first game of the tournament – with an 8:30 a.m. start, no less – Pacific scored four times in the second inning and piled on five in the sixth to break it open.
“We’re jumping out of the boat in the first game, and it’s against Oregon, and we’re not knowing anything?” said Corsi, the Pacific manager. “It’s nice to get this out of the way.”
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Colton Walsh went 2 for 3 with a momentum-swinging three-run, second-inning home run. Starter Ian Michael struck out eight in 32/3 innings for the win, and reliever Logan Kruse threw what may have been the pitch of the game when he struck out Bend’s No. 3 hitter, Evan Scalley, with runners at second and third to end the fifth inning and preserve a three-run lead for Pacific.
Making its first Northwest Region appearance since 1992, Pacific (11-2) peppered Bend with 10 hits and drew seven walks and had multiple baserunners in every inning except one.
“We’ve been doing this all year,” Corsi said. “As a team, we have guys who step up, and we put guys in places where they normally don’t hit, and they become heroes.”
Walsh, an outfielder, was at the top of that list. Trailing 2-1 in the second inning, he hit a 2-2 pitch over the center-field wall for a three-run homer — on a ball he felt like he didn’t hit very hard.
“He threw me a curve ball,” Walsh said of Bend starter Drew Steelhammer, who gave up four runs in two innings, “and I just hung in there and swung. I didn’t really get much of it, but it went out by a little bit.”
In reality, it couldn’t have been bigger.
Bend manager Dan Ruhl admitted the home run deflated his club and set the tone for its first loss after nine consecutive postseason victories.
“They punched us in the gut a little bit,” he said, “and I don’t think we ever recovered.”
Given a second wind, Michael had something do with that, as well. The right-hander, who was so instrumental in the first of the two state-championship victories two weeks ago against Federal Way, responded by retiring the last eight hitters he faced.
Pacific led 5-2 when Bend mounted a last stand in the fifth. Andrew Lovejoy walked with one out, and Dylan Ruhl singled with two outs. An error moved them to second and third, and Scalley, the No. 3 hitter, worked reliever Logan Kruse to a 3-2 count before Kruse struck him out on a curveball to end the inning.
Pacific’s next game will be against Boulder Arrowhead Little League of Billings, Mont., at 8:30 a.m. Sunday.