The Bend North All-Stars tried to go where their Bend South counterparts could not quite get in 2011 -- a trip to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. They got just as tantalizingly close, but the Pacific squad of Lynnwood, Wash., defeated them Saturday for the second time in the Northwest Regionals final at San Bernardino, Calif., this time 6-3.
The Bend North 12-year-olds played their hardest and had some great achievements, in the three victories at San Bernardino and again on Saturday, including three double-plays.
The Washington squad jumped out to an early lead Saturday as Tyler Durbin lined one into the gap in right center for the RBI double, then made it 2-0 on an RBI ground-out.
But Bend North answered right back in their half of the first, as Drew Steelhammer socked a grounder through the left side and Dylan Ruhl had no notion of stopping at third base, beating the throw home.
Bend North took a 3-2 lead as Steelhammer took off on a passed ball and made it home.
The double-plays kept it competitive, but a ground ball got through second baseman Jackson Murphy's legs in the third and two runs scored.
In the sixth and final inning, Bend North brought the tying run to the plate, but both Ruhl and Even Scalley struck out to end the contest in what was still a great run by Bend North.
They were the two best teams in pool play, as Pacific was undefeated, while Bend North only lost once, to Washington 10-2 in their opening game.
After that loss, Coach Dan Ruhl said he knows they can beat Washington, since they had the tying run at the plate in the fifth inning of that game before Washington broke it open in the later frames.
Ruhl's son, Dylan, was key in Thursday's 7-6 semifinal win over Eagle River of Knik, Alaska, as the reliever pitched through a rough bottom of the sixth, then made a pair of game-saving catches in the center field.
You can follow Bend North at their Facebook page.