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Second place is narrow miss for Keizer team

The Keizer All Star team shows off its second place medals from the District 7 All Star tourney. Front row (left to right): Kyler Holland, Taylor Self, Jonathan Williams, Jacob Jackson, Christian Oldfield, and Josiah Henifin. Middle row: Josh Miller, Andy Okada, Forest Suda, Kevin Martin, Collin Wentworth and Hunter Bedoya. Back row: Coach Rick Bojorquez, Coach John Snider and Jeremy Wentworth, manager. (Submitted)

The Keizer Little League Majors All Star team was runner-up in the 2012 District 7 All Star tournament.

The Little League All Star tournament is a unique opportunity for a team consisting of players ages 11-12 from a geographically restricted area to represent their respective communities in an international baseball tournament that culminates on national television in what is known as the Little League World Series.

This year marked the return of Keizer Little League to the finals in the District 7 tournament, which consisted of 10 teams from Salem, Corvallis, Mt. Angel, Turner and Albany.

“For some on the team this was their fourth trip to the All Star tournament and although they have competed well in the past, the team felt like it had something to prove,” said Jeremy Wentworth, team manager.  “Everyone practiced with purpose and focused on getting better every day.  They knew what it was going to take if they wanted to accomplish their goal and on Friday, July 13, the only thing that stood between them and the state tournament was a team from Sprague Little League.”

Unfortunately for the Keizer All Stars, that obstacle was too much to overcome that day. The game ended in a 12-2 loss.

Even when the team was down 8-1 in the fourth inning of the semi-finals, the members banded together and rallied with 12 unanswered runs to defeat Corvallis National and advance to the district championship.  It was something of a repeat performance from the night prior. Facing elimination the team turned a 4-1 deficit into a 10-5 lead.  However, in the bottom of the sixth, the lead was reduced to one and the Corvallis American team was threatening to tie the game, but a strikeout retired the side and Keizer won.

“Although their dream of playing on TV in the Little League World Series is over, the team can be proud to know that all of the hard work was worth it.  The feeling of pride, sense of teamwork and accomplishment was obvious as they battled through six tough games in seven days,” Wentworth said. “Everyone contributed to the success of the team.”