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Yovan's no-hitter advances Westview to second round

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview sophomore Keita Fabrega slides safely back into first base in the fifth inning of the Wildcats 3-0 first round playoff win over Thurston.

Not even the ghosts of Westview’s checkered postseason past could touch the unhittable Kenyon Yovan on Monday.

Yovan took one last deep breath with a one-two count to Thurston’s Aaron Patterson in bottom of the seventh, a no-hitter on the line, a chance to chase away two years of Wildcat playoff demons resting on the ace’s red-hot right arm.

Winding up atop the hill, Yovan uncoiled his 6-foot-2 frame and unleashed a tailing fastball. Patterson — like many of the Colts — flailed and whiffed at the offering, giving the Wildcat sophomore his first career no-no all the while sending Westview to the second round of the 6A playoffs for the first time since 2011, 3-0.

“I came in here with high focus, and the zone I was in was just unbelievable to feel,” said Yovan. “As a pitcher, to get on a roll like that is the best feeling in the world. I threw a couple no-hitters in the summer, but this is big-time. This was the first round of the playoffs and a big deal for us. Thurston’s a great team, and I’m really glad we got that win.”

Westview hosted Hillsboro on Wednesday in the second round. Results of the game at press time were unavailable. The winner of Wednesday’s matchup advances to the 6A quarterfinals on Friday against the winner of Clackamas-West Linn.

“There was a lot of pressure on us today,” admitted Wildcat sophomore rightfielder Keita Fabrega. “For us to get this first one out of the way gives us more momentum and confidence for the young guys, including myself. We just keep it rolling from here.”

In the biggest game of his young life, with so much recent gloomy history weighing on the minds of his teammates, Yovan put on a virtuoso performance, striking out nine Colts while allowing just three walks. Attacking low-and-away and hard-and-in Yovan found a groove early, retiring eight straight at one point and struck out the side in the seventh. Plus, with Westview pressing at the plate in early going, Yovan’s yeoman’s work on the mound allowed the Wildcats’ sticks enough time to get the first round stage fright out of the way.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview's Taiki Ishii and Jayden Hanna celebrate Kenyon Yovans no-hitter in the first round of the 6A playoffs against Thurston on Monday.

“We wanted to come out here and play our normal ball,” said Yovan. “We struggled a little bit with the bats, but we still played Westview baseball. We had no errors and that’s big for us. We were definitely ready to do this.”

Thurston starting pitcher Rocco Ferrari blanked the Wildcats for four innings until Westview third baseman Taiki Ishii led off the bottom of the fifth with a single and moved to second on a wild pitch. Jayden Hanna advanced Ishii to third with a fielder’s choice to the right side of the infield. But, catcher Tyler Stofiel struck out, bringing Fabrega to the plate and the forefront of Westview’s best hope to score.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview senior outfielder Kyle Cox and the Wildcats advanced to the second round of the 6A postseason for the first time since 2011.

The left-handed hitting sophomore — who made a key diving catch in the first inning to help out Yovan and who become a regular in the Wildcat lineup — hit a chopper over Ferrari’s head that took a funky bounce on the infield grass. Thurston’s second baseman bobbled the ball trying to flip it to first, which allowed the hurrying Fabrega to touch the bag in time and let Ishii score, 1-0.

“I was just thinking, ‘Get the bat on the ball’,” said Fabrega. “I got a little lucky, but it felt good. We manufactured a run, and I was the end piece. It wasn’t just me, it was the whole system. We scored a run as team, and after that, we added some more as insurance.”

Thurston pulled Ferrari after the fifth stanza and inserted Aaron Clift in the bottom of the sixth. Clift walked Nolan Minter, allowed a Parker Kelly single and walked Yovan to load the bases. Ishii and Hanna then each drew a bases-loaded walk to plate two more runs and hand Yovan an unyielding 3-0 advantage going into the seventh.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview sophomore pitcher Kenyon Yovan threw a no-hitter in the first round of the 6A playoffs against Thurston on Monday. Yovan struck out nine Colts and only walked three in the win.

“Three runs felt like 15,” said Fabrega. “In the playoffs, you have to scrap runs and we did.”

“That definitely took a load off Kenyon’s shoulders,” added Stofiel. “It gave him a lot of room to let (Thurston) hit the ball and let our defense make plays. It was good to know that we can come through late and get a big, timely hit.”

The postseason victory was a rite of passage in some ways for both Yovan and this young Westview club that graduated a handful of all-league studs from last season’s Metro-title- toting team and was bounced in unceremonious fashion in the first round. The Wildcats have assuredly said since the last day of OIBA summer baseball their ambition is not just a Metro title, but a state crown. Monday’s mettle-testing triumph was the first step toward the ultimate desire.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview junior third baseman Taiki Ishii touches home plate for the Wildcats first run of their 3-0 first round playoff win over Thurston on Monday.

“Winning a championship in league is great, but everyone’s working for that ring on their finger,” said Yovan. “That’s everyone’s goal in high school. You don’t go out there to lose. You go out there to compete with the best. We just have to keep that playoff feel. Sometimes we get down in the dugout, but we always find a way to get up in big spots.”

“We’re starting to get hot, and when we’re hot we can compete with anyone in the state,” said Fabrega. “This is the best time to play our best ball and start hitting the ball — in the playoffs.”

“It’s great that we got that first win, but we still have to come out with energy in the next round,” added Stofiel. “Teams are just going to get better, and we have to play our game. We have to keep chugging along.”



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