By Ben Reynolds
Herald sports editor
HERMISTON Brian Bailey gathered his team outside the left field wall and had nothing but praise and admiration for his them.
He sat there and talked about how much his players accomplishments will build confidence and hopefully build momentum for the Columbia Little League program for years to come.
He was hardly disappointed. His 9-10-year-old Little League team had just lost a 7-2 decision to Hood River Blue in the semifinals of the District 5 Minors tournament Wednesday at the Field of Dreams.
But for a team that was not expected to be playing on Wednesday, he and his players walked off the field proud of what they had achieved the last six days.
"It's unreal," the coach said. "We didn't expect to be playing in the semifinals.
"To make it this far is exceptional for these kids."
Hood River Blue went on to defeat Bend South 6-3 in the title game Thursday.
Columbia, which earned a spot in the semifinals after a thrilling rally Tuesday to beat Redmond, could not shutdown the hard-hitting Hood River team.
Hood River, which had beaten Columbia 6-0 Monday in pool play, continued to swing the bats Wednesday against a depleted pitching staff.
Columbia stayed tight early and had a chance to grab the lead, but could not cash in with two runners on and only one out in the first inning.
Trailing 1-0, Columbia tied the game in the bottom of the first when Bridger Hurley, who led off the inning with a single, came around to score on an error.
But with runners on second and third base, the next three Columbia batters struck out to end the scoring threat.
Hood River came back in the second inning with three runs to grab the lead back at 4-1. After Hood River tacked on a run in the third inning, Zachary Ash hit a triple in the bottom of the third inning to get Columbia back to within 5-2.
Hood River then added two more runs in the fourth inning to go ahead 7-2. Columbia had its chances to creep closer in its final three at-bats but could not convert.
"We are a little disappointed because we wanted to advance," Devin Bailey said after the game.
Bailey went 3-for-3 with two doubles.
"This was a great experience for all," Brian Bailey said. "We really thought we could make it to Tuesday, but to be playing today was just phenomenal."