Four local sluggers and recent Canby High School grads are headed to the Northwest Regional championship this week after helping capture the Oregon American Legion state title as part of the prestigious Portland Barbers AAA baseball team
The Barbers (39-6) defeated the favored Emerald Challengers (50-8) from Eugene in the final state championship game Wednesday, July 26, by a score of 10-6.
Founded by and named in honor of Don and Alison Lovell, owner of The Barbers barbershop chain, the Barbers have been one of the state’s top AAA baseball squads since being established in 2010, but this marks the program’s first state title.
Their 2023 roster includes four former Cougars: pitcher Jason Noffsinger, 19, of the Class of 2022; twins Hunter and Logan Robinson, 17, who play outfield and shortstop, and catcher Owen Tilden, 18 — all of whom graduated earlier this year.
The Challengers had swept their way through the tournament en route to the Oregon Legion finals, outscoring opponents 33-17, including a 13-5 triumph in the semis. To win the title, the Challengers would have had to defeat the Barbers once.
But the Barbers flipped the script in their first tilt earlier Wednesday, trading leads throughout the first six innings before shocking a packed Swede Johnson Stadium in North Eugene with a two-run home run by Cameron Masters-Doble, a 2023 Lakeridge grad, in the seventh to seal the 7-6 win.
In the finale, the Barbers jumped out to an insurmountable lead on the strength of a four-run third inning led by Mountainside grads Eric Altmark (4-for-7) and Ian Salbeda (three-run double), ultimately clipping Emerald by a score of 10-6. It was the first time this summer that the Challengers had lost back-to-back games.
The outcome may have stunned the Challengers and their home crowd fans — but it did not surprise Noffsinger.
“We knew they were a good team, but we also knew that when we had lost to them previously, we had beaten ourselves,” he told the Current. As for the 1-0 series hole in which they found themselves to start the series, the Barbers were prepared.
“We had everything lined up from day one in case this situation arises, so come championship day, we had all of our best arms and bats lined up ready to go,” he said. “Everyone knew we were there to send them packing.”
Masters-Doble was, well, masterful throughout both championship games, finishing 5-for-7 with a double, home run and five RBIs.
He had struggled a bit at the plate before the state tournament, but he changed his approach after a heart-to-heart with one of the team’s coaches and Noffsinger — no stranger to big games himself, having been a key member of the Cougs’ 6A state championship runner-up team in 2022.
“Cam is a fierce competitor and hates losing,” Noffsinger recalled. “After a rough first game, one of the coaches and I sat down and talked to him. I just told him to not overthink it and, before each at-bat, look at the pitcher and think in his head that he is better than any pitcher no matter where who they are.
“He said that was a game changer for his approach, and from then on, he was locked in and hot at the plate.”
Noffsinger said he is particularly thrilled to be sharing the experience with three other Canby natives. All four have played together for years, growing up through the ranks of club ball and at Canby High School.
“The twins played a huge role in our success,” he said. “They really stepped up and got the job done when needed. Owen struggled a little at the plate, but has never been better defensively. That played in a huge part in beating Eugene, especially limiting their run game, which is how they win most of their games.”
Noffsinger was limited in the state tourney with an arm injury, but said he has been cleared to throw shortened outings as needed when the team represents Oregon in the Northwest Regional Tournament this week at Hladky Memorial Stadium in Gillette, Wyoming, on August 2-6.
If the team makes it to the World Series, which will be held in Shelby, North Carolina, the following week, Noffsinger will be ready.
“Everyone is super excited and itching to get out there playing again on a bigger stage than we are used to,” he said.
For more information and live game streaming of American Legion Northwest Tournament action, visit americanlegion.sportngin.com/2023regional7.
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