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Youth baseball: Canby wins first Midget Federal state title since '98


Eric Pottratz's team tops Westview in the finals, finishing its season with a 22-6 record.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Canby Junior Baseball programs Midget Federal team, shown at the county tournament, won a state title July 21 in Forest Grove. Front row: Kellan Oakes (left), Zach Netter, Christian Pottratz, Theo Netter, Joel Johnson and batboy Nate Bailey. Second row: Vann Bittenbender (left), Zack Markell, Joey Gartrell, Mikey Gibson and Anderson Oistad. Back row: assistant coach Ed Netter (left), Brendan McKinney, coach Eric Pottratz, Ben Bailey and assistant coach John Oistad.Eric Pottratz praised his players by telling them their photo belonged under the word “team” in the dictionary. The entry for “champion” might need updating as well.

With a roster of a dozen 9- and 10-year-old players, the Canby Junior Baseball program’s Midget Federal squad capped its stellar season by winning a state title July 21 at Sherman-Larkins Stadium on the campus of Pacific University in Forest Grove.

“It’s a life-changing experience and something they’ll never forget,” Pottratz said. “The whole time, I’m telling the boys that we’re climbing the mountain, and we ended up reaching the top.”

Canby made history by arriving at the apex, snatching its first state championship at the Midget Federal level since 1998.

And the team used its own history as inspiration. Assistant coach Ed Netter, a Canby Junior Baseball alumnus who played at the same level in 1981, brought along the state-title trophy he won that year. Canby High School principal Pat Johnson, who was an assistant coach on the victorious 1998 team, showed the players a Cooperstown bat that was used that season.

“It was a four-day process and a thrilling experience for all of us,” said Pottratz, whose coaching staff also included John Oistad. “All of the coaches played junior baseball, so it was really something to be able to give back to the town itself, to get Canby back on top of the baseball world.”

The team entered the postseason with a 14-4 record, taking third place in its 10-team division behind Wilsonvile and Tualatin.

With the No. 3 seed in the county tournament July 11-14 at North Clackamas Park in Milwaukie, Canby topped Silverton in the first round but lost to Tualatin in the second game.

Still in the hunt in the double-elimination competition, Pottratz’s team bounced back in the losers’ bracket. It defeated Silverton again, pushed past Clackamas and upset top-seeded Wilsonville to reach the championship game. The team finished with runner-up honors after falling 6-4 to Tualatin.

With the No. 2 seed in the state playoffs July 18-21, Canby crushed seventh-seeded McMinnville 13-6 and slipped past No. 3 Sherwood 9-5 in eight innings to set up a rematch against Tualatin.

Canby then upended the top-seeded team 10-8 to advance to the finals, where it triumphed over Westview to claim a state title and end its campaign with a 22-6 record.

It was a landmark victory for Canby, which took third place at the Midget American level last year with many of the same players.

Exactly five months before the state championship game, Canby held its first practice. Pottratz told his players they were capable of playing at the highest level and making a run at the finals.

“The kids are the ones who go out and play, and we just try to put them out there in places where they can succeed,” said Pottratz, who has coached youth baseball for five years. “It’s the ultimate definition of the word ‘team.’ Everyone came together and picked each other up. It wasn’t one individual who stood out. It was all 12 individuals who won that state title as a whole.”

Canby’s roster included Ben Bailey, Vann Bittenbender, Joey Gartrell, Mikey Gibson, Joel Johnson, Zack Markell, Brendan McKinney, Zach Netter, Theo Netter, Kellan Oakes, Anderson Oistad and Christian Pottratz. The team’s batboy was Nate Bailey.

“I put a huge emphasis on the word ‘team,’” said Pottratz, who thanked local businesses for their support. “I kept telling the boys there at the end that if you looked up the word ‘team’ in the dictionary, there’d be a picture of those 12 boys.”