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Wildcat baseball bows out of state playoffs to Spartans

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview junior catcher Tyler Stofiel tags out a Hillsboro base runner for an out in the top of the fifth of the Wildcats second-round playoff loss last week.

Then there were none.

Westview marked Metro’s last stab at a state championship after a rash of one-and-dones in the first round of the 6A playoffs left the league with just the Wildcats standing. The team went down abruptly but resolutely to No. 29 Hillsboro, 5-4, on May 28.

The upset-minded Spartans stunned Westview early, ambushing the Wildcats with two runs in the first inning and tacking on two more in the third against Parker Kelly to steal a 4-0 lead. Westview boldly clawed back in the next four innings, piecing together timely RBIs with essential defense plays to cut a 5-1 deficit to 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh.by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview's Kenyon Yovan celebrates his RBI double in the second round of the 6A playoffs against Hillsboro.

“We felt coming in that was a game we could’ve won,” said Teagan Lind. “We never thought that game was out of reach until it was over. We didn’t start out the way we wanted to. We figured it out toward the end, but there comes a point where it’s too late. You have to tip your cap to (Hillsboro). They came out and played a great game.”

Yet, with a runner on second following a clutch, two-out RBI double by Lind, Hillsboro got Westview third baseman Taiki Ishii to ground out to second, ending the Wildcats’ 11th-hour rally and bringing the co-Metro champion’s season to a premature end.

“We fought back until the end,” added Ishii. “It was a great team to be on. We fought all year long, and nobody worked harder than us. The competitiveness of every single player on this team is incredible. We’ll fight back until it’s over.”

Surprisingly, when the 6A quarterfinals commenced on Friday, not one of Metro’s elite programs was in action with Westview being the latest victim of one-and-out postseason ball.

“This game will tear you up,” said sophomore third baseman Kenyon Yovan, who led the Wildcats with three hits. “But, you always have to come out on top with your head up. We played our hearts out. I couldn’t ask for more from my team.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview second baseman Jayden Hanna holds onto the baseball for a force out against Hillsboro in the second round of the 6A playoffs.

Westview’s resurgence

Yovan ignited Westview’s resurgence in the third, singling to left-center to score Nolan Minter and put the Wildcats on the board, 4-1. Then, after Hillsboro added a run on an infield single and put a runner on third, Wildcat rightfielder Keita Fabrega caught a fly ball for an out and fired a one-hop frozen rope to catcher Tyler Stofiel at home to gun down the tagging Spartan for the inning-killing double play.

Sensing a swing in the contest’s energy, Westview pushed the issue with Yovan doubling to the left-center gap to score Minter with two outs to cut the deficit to 5-2. Lind — the next batter — stroked a single to center to score pinch runner Silas Riccardi from second to make it 5-3.

“We decided part way through the game it was time to get it together,” said Lind. “We got our mentality going at the plate and started to lock it down on defense a little bit. We started playing the baseball we’re used to, but it was too late.”

Yovan and Lind stayed hot in the seventh, when Yovan singled to center and Lind brought his fellow infielder in with a double to the leftfield fence to come within 5-4. Yet, with two outs already on the board, Westview had very little elbow room to extend the inning as Ishii grounded out to send the Spartans onto a quarterfinal date with Clackamas.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview senior Silas Riccardi celebrates his pinch run score against Hillsboro in the second round of the 6A playoffs last week.

The heartbreak of losing at least a round early will understandably reside with the Wildcats for a while. They’ll applaud the efforts of seniors Minter, Riccardi, Kyle Cox, Robbie Hutchinson, Jake Votta, Mitch Tamblyn, Brian Paul, Silas Riccardi and Matt Brandt, who all had standout moments during the run to the pinnacle of Metro and look back on this season as a success.

“(The seniors) have done great things this year,” said Yovan. “We had guys come in certain spots and do big. We had guys come in timely spots for hits and pinch-runners and do big. (Minter) came off the bench and found a starting role. You couldn’t ask for more.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview junior pitcher Parker Kelly pitched a complete game against Hillsboro, allowing three earned runs and 10 hits in a 5-4 defeat.

Looking ahead

Westview got the first-round playoff monkey off its back, bucking Thurston to advance to the second round of the postseason. However, the Wildcats want more — a lot more — and next year’s team could be the one to send Westview back to state prominence.

“This year our team did well, but next year is going to be the year for us,” said Yovan. “We have to work harder than the teams above us because there’s always someone working harder than you. Most of our team is young, and next year we’re going to come out and make a good run at it.”

With eight of the nine starters from the Hillsboro contest coming back next spring, including Yovan, the 2014 Metro pitcher of the year, and five first-team, all-Metro selections returning, Westview will have a full deck from which to work with. Lind — one of the four starting infielders returning — said the Wildcats need to bottle up the hurt and frustration of watching Hillsboro celebrate in front of them at Hops Stadium and return with vengeance in mind.

“We’re going to remember this feeling and know how our seniors felt this year,” said Lind. “We’re going to try to not have this happen and go out with a win. I don’t really like this feeling and don’t want to have it again.”

“We’ll use this as motivation,” added Ishii. “We’ll work hard all off-season and just get better than this year. We’re going to come back better, a lot better. We’re proud of this season, but we’re still not satisfied. We wanted that state championship.”



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