Knights headed to regional tourney

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The Keizer Knights will compete in the Pacific Northwest Regional Baseball Tournament this coming week after second place finish in a state tournament. (Submitted)

The Oregon SWAT 14U baseball team, also known as the Keizer Knights, have earned a berth in the Pacific Northwest Regional Baseball Tournament that will be played in The Dalles, Oregon, July 31-August 6.

Ten teams from across the Pacific Northwest and Canada will compete in the Tournament including teams from Alberta, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon – the winner will advance to the Babe Ruth World Series.

SWAT earned the berth as a result of their second place finish in the recently concluded State Tournament held in Bend, Oregon, July 19-22.

SWAT’s two-win, two-loss record in pool play earned the team the No. 4 seed in the four-team single elimination championship bracket and pitted the team against the undefeated No. 1 seed, the Central Oregon Bend All-Stars. SWAT had lost to the Central Oregon team the previous day in pool play by a lopsided score of 23-7.

Mickey Walker took the mound for the Knights and struck out the first two Central Oregon hitters in the first inning before Elliott Willy doubled.  Walker eliminated the early threat by striking out Cameron Hines to end the first inning.  Central Oregon went down in order in the second and third innings.

Meanwhile, Knight Cole Freeburg reached base on an error, pinch runner Hunter Antkowiak stole second, and scored SWAT’s first run on a single by Alan Cornejo in the second inning.

Kevin Ruiz’s triple in the fourth inning scored SWAT’s Walker and Matthew Aguilar. A balk by Central Oregon’s Matt Hicks brought in Ruiz to make the score 4-0 SWAT after three innings.

Central Oregon closed the score to 4-1 in the fifth inning as Jason Garcia tripled to score J.J. Spitler.  Walker struck out the next hitter, Nick Haun, to end the inning.

SWAT answered with a run in the bottom of the fifth as Antkowiak walked, stole second and went to third on an error by the catcher before scoring on Cole Hamilton’s sacrifice fly.

SWAT added two insurance runs in the sixth inning to close out the scoring. Walker allowed only a scratch single in the last few innings while striking out four more Central Oregon hitters.  Walker’s complete game effort included 10 strikeouts and one walk.

The upset win secured a second-place finish in the State Tournament for SWAT and a guaranteed berth in the Pacific Northwest Babe Ruth Regional Tournament.

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