July 8, 2024 at 3:49 p.m.

Rockets fall in championship to Royals

Rockets are runners-up in Portland Firecracker Classic
Nick Bailey slings in a pitch during the Portland Rockets’ 13-5 loss to the South Bend Royals in the Portland Firecracker Classic semifinal at Runkle-Miller Field on Saturday. The Rockets made their way to the championship game against the Royals on Sunday, taking the first game 10-7 before falling 12-6. (The Commercial Review/Ray Cooney)
Nick Bailey slings in a pitch during the Portland Rockets’ 13-5 loss to the South Bend Royals in the Portland Firecracker Classic semifinal at Runkle-Miller Field on Saturday. The Rockets made their way to the championship game against the Royals on Sunday, taking the first game 10-7 before falling 12-6. (The Commercial Review/Ray Cooney)

The Rockets made it to the championship game. They even secured a win to force a second game to determine the winner of the tournament.

They just couldn’t stop the Royals from having a pair of big innings.

The Portland Rockets went 3-2 over the weekend to finish as the runners-up to the South Bend Royals in the 2024 Portland Firecracker Classic at Runkle-Miller Field.

The Rockets opened the tournament with a 10-0 victory over the Spring Armadillos in five innings on Friday night. Saturday began with a 13-5 defeat at the hands of the Royals in the top semifinal game before Portland’s 11-3 victory over the Indy Orioles to secure a rematch with the Royals in the championship.

The Rockets beat South Bend 10-7 on Sunday to force a second championship game because of double-elimination rules, only to fall 12-6.

Jared Holley struggled through the first 2 ⅓ innings on the mound of the final game, giving up six earned runs on six hits and three walks. A walk and a home run scored two in the second inning before a single, a walk and another home run plated three in the third. Another run came around to score on a one-out single in the third inning.

A pair of doubles and singles pulled the Rockets (13-14) within a run of the Royals, before the game got put out of reach via a four-run sixth inning.

The only other Rockets loss also came at the hand of the Royals. In the semifinal game, South Bend scored a seven-run inning thanks to a bases-loaded walk, a hit-by-pitch, a single and a bases-clearing triple. Garrison Brege suffered the loss.

Portland had a seven-run inning of its own on Friday to walk off the Armadillos in the fifth inning. Back-to-back-to-back singles by Cade Meade, Gavin Gleason and Brege pushed the first three runs across. Kenny Bailey doubled to right field to add a fourth run before Peyton Smith ended the game with a three-run single. Mitch Waters secured the win without giving up a run.

Kade Muth provided a lift for the Rockets in the win over the Orioles. His first contribution came in the fifth inning by hitting a three-run home run. Muth was also the fourth straight batter to walk in the sixth inning, forcing the game to end by mercy rule. Camden La Fuze went the distance on the mound with only two earned runs.

A hot start gave the Rockets the victory in the first championship game as they scored two runs in the first inning, three in the second and five in the third.

Muth again provided a lot of offense for Portland. He opened the game with a leadoff home run and plated two runs on a single in the third to help secure the lead.

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