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Baseball Buffs still alive

Sherwood beaten in tiebreaker game

Sports Editor
   
   Starting pitcher Joey McConnell socked a three-run home run in the second inning, staking Madras High's boys baseball team to a lead it never gave up in a 12-7 victory over Sherwood Friday at The Dalles.
   The game started the "do or die" part of Madras schedule. A loss, from now on, will end the Madras season.
   By winning the May 16 Tri-Valley tie-breaker game against Sherwood, Madras made the first step in a three-trip path to qualifying for the state championship tourney. By virtue of having the fifth-best regular season record in the Tri-Valley Conference, Madras faced beating both The Dalles, which finished fourth, and Gladstone, which took third, to emerge with the league's third seed into the state tourney.
   Beating Sherwood took a rally after the Buffs fell behind 4-3 in that May 16 contest. McConnell's three-run blast in the bottom of the second was part of a four-run Madras outburst which left it leading 7-4. Buoyed by the lead, McConnell became more effective on the mound and shut out Sherwood in the second through fifth innings.
   "We were just hitting better. It was the same pitcher that beat us once before," said McConnell.
   Owen Danzuka played third so freshman Vaughn Prow was used at shortstop before being summoned by coach Bruce Reece as a relief pitcher in the sixth against Sherwood.
   Pat Marston, St. John and McConnell each doubled for Madras to further augment McConnell's homer.
   Over the course of the final week of the season, those Buffs, along with the likes of Kelly Devine, Devin Reece, Matt Ellsbury and Ryan Fivecoat all chipped in with either hits or key defensive stops.
   Madras found a way to add a run in the fourth inning and two more in the fifth to its lead. Its odyssey to advance while ending the season for The Dalles and Gladstone will have started Tuesday for Madras. If the Buffs somehow beat The Dalles for the second time in two weeks, in a May 20 playoff contest at The Dalles, they will be within an upset at Gladstone of the state tourney.
   Madras got off to a much stronger start in The Dalles on Friday, May 16, than in its one other trip there this spring, when it was beaten by 10 runs.
   Regular starting catcher Nathan St. John reversed roles for Madras impressively while pitching the Buffs to an 8-2 May 14 win.
   A senior, St. John extended Madras's season with a powerful performance including six shutout innings. Along with vanquishing Valley Catholic until relieved by Owen Danzuka in the sixth inning, St. John belted a home run. He gave up just two runs in the fifth, despite five errors behind him.
   At 6-8, Madras tied Sherwood for fifth to retain its chance at a berth in the state tournament. But the win in the May 16 tie-breaker game only started Madras's parade.
   Whether it proves The Dalles, at 7-7, or Madras again, the winner of the game at The Dalles is bound for Gladstone. As the regular season's third-place TVL team, Gladstone earned the right to host the battle for the league's final seed in the state tournament. Wilsonville and La Salle assured TVL seeds one and two.
   Madras earned its chance at Sherwood when the Bowmen lost each of its final four league games. Beating The Dalles, for the first time ever in Coach Bruce Reece's 10-years, and Valley Catholic got Madras to 6-8.
   At Valley Catholic some younger Madras players joined St. John in making the most of opportunity.
   While St. John was keeping his pitching record perfect in his second performance as a Madras starter, a mix of junior varsity and lesser-used players expanded the offense which St. John anchored with his homer. Gavin Romanick proved a powerful example. The sophomore got a chance to appear since there was no JV game at Valley Catholic and doubled. It was Madras's one extra-base hit besides St. John's in its nine.