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Comets ousted from state

CENTRAL POINT — The Central Point Comets were eliminated from the American Legion A state tournament after their second agonizing loss in as many days Monday at Anhorn Field.

The Comets, who blew a 3-0 lead in a loss to La Grande on Sunday, nearly fought back from a 4-0 deficit against the Salem Senators before leaving the tying run stranded on third base in the bottom of the seventh of a 4-3 setback.

The season-ending defeat also included two baserunning miscues that cost Central Point in the fifth and sixth innings.

"I thought our kids played hard and played well, and being the host team, I thought we held our own," said Comets' head coach Jay Campbell, whose team opened the tournament with two straight wins, including a first-round victory over Salem. "We played real good ball the first two games and we were right there these last two games.

"We didn't quite get the breaks that you need to move on in a tournament like this."

Salem moves on to face Grants Pass, a 17-8 winner over La Grande, at noon today, with the winner earning the right to face La Grande for the state championship at 3 p.m.

Down 4-1, Central Point (32-21) nearly rallied all the way back in the bottom of the sixth after Stefano Sparacino reached on a throwing error with one out. Tanner Ryerson followed with an RBI single and later scored when Cole Berriochoa's single to left skipped past Senators' left fielder Carson Hannibal.

In the bottom of the seventh, Anthony Martin's double put the tying run on second base with one out. He moved to third on Ty Fox's ground out to short, setting up a do-or-die situation for Taylor Pardee, Central Point's cleanup hitter.

"I believe in my kids and I thought for sure that (Pardee) was going to get a hit there," Campbell said. "Sometimes, that doesn't work out."

Pardee, who was 4-for-12 in the tournament, popped out to first to end the game.

Salem starter Max Hoyt pitched five solid innings to pick up the win, allowing one run on four hits while striking out four. Reliever River Herber surrendered two unearned runs on three hits over the last two innings.

Comets' starter Matt Preston was saddled with the loss after giving up four runs, three earned, on nine hits in 42/3 innings. He struck out three without a walk. Wyatt Williams shut out the Senators on two hits over the last 21/3.

Preston escaped a two-on, no-out jam in the second with back-to-back strikeouts followed by an easy ground out.

"He did a good job getting us out of some early situations," Campbell said.

Salem used a two-out rally to pad its 2-0 lead in the fifth when Mason Fessler and Greg Scott came through with run-scoring singles. Scott was 3-for-4 with two RBIs.

Martin (2-for-4) was the only Comet with multiple hits.

Central Point's aggressive baserunning backfired as attempts to advance to third on singles twice led to outs when Comets slid across and off the base.

"It's easy to look back and say that now, but you just gotta put your players in position to execute and do things correctly, and we just made a couple mistakes running the bases," Campbell said.

Campbell went on to say that the season as a whole was a big success for the Comets.

"This was a great opportunity for our kids to see what we needed to work on in the offseason to get better," he said. "We played 53 games, which was the whole goal this summer — to give our guys opportunities to prove what we could do."

Salem 002 020 0 — 4 11 4

Central Point 000 012 0 — 3 7 2

Hoyt, Herber (6) and Bedell; Preston, Williams (5) and Aplin. W — Hoyt. L — Preston. 2B — S: Hannibal; CP: Martin.

18A ASA NATIONALS — At Normal, Ill., opening day for the Black Tornado didn't go as hoped as the local fastpitch team dropped a 13-1 pool play game against GAC of Fayetteville, Ga.

GAC opened a 2-0 lead in the first inning then tacked on five runs in each of the second and fourth innings to end the contest shortened to four innings by the mercy rule. The Georgia team boasts four players with one year of college experience and a host of other recent high school graduates who have already signed to play college softball, said Black Tornado coach Mike Mayben.

GAC posted a 4-2 record at nationals last year.

Hannah Leming provided the Black Tornado with a spark in the fourth inning with a one-out single and later scored on a two-out double by Keisha Williams.

Those were the lone hits for the Medford team, which was outhit 16-2. Kelsie Bartley pitched the first two innings and Chloe Hanson the second two. Mayben said his players had difficulty acclimating to high humidity.

Pool play continues at 10 a.m. Pacific today against either Michigan Elite or the Naperville Diamonds. That outcome will determine the Black Tornado's seeding as it enters the 106-team double-elimination championship bracket.

In other national tournament action at the 16A level in Chattanooga, Tenn., North Medford High players Sierra Berryessa and Maryssa Becker were part of an Oregon Blaze team out of Beaverton that lost 10-5 in pool play.

The Blaze recently won the 16A state tourney and play another pool play game at 8 a.m. today.

Crater's Sebastian Reynolds, sliding into third base, is tagged out by Salem's Mason Fessler. - Andy Atkinson