Palmer dominate once again
The Madras High School baseball program is selling playoff T-Shirts that read "Survive and Advance."
That's exactly what the White Buffalos did Wednesday in the opening round of the OSAA Class 4A state baseball playoffs, thanks mainly, to consecutive dominate pitching efforts by senior Kyle Palmer.
The left-hander, who struck out 13 batters in all, worked out of a bases loaded jam in the seventh inning with two-straight strikeouts to end the game at Baker High School to lead Madras to a 4-3 victory.
"That was one of the most stressful seventh innings I've ever been a part of, but Kyle gave us maximum effort and we survived," MHS head coach Adam Randall said.
The win advanced Madras (15-9 overall) to Friday's quarterfinals where the White Buffalos will play at No.-1 ranked Ontario (18-7).
"This is why we practice all year, to have an opportunity like this, and we're excited," Randall said.
Trailing 4-2 entering the bottom half of the seventh frame, Baker took advantage of three walks and a mental fielding error to make the score 4-3, before MHS catcher Jordan Brown chased down a wild pitch to book an out at home plate with a toss to Palmer.
"That play by Jordan was one of the best defensive plays I have ever seen," Randall said. "It saved the game."
Palmer took control from there by striking out a pair of Bulldogs around an intentional walk to end the game.
"I can't say enough about the effort Kyle gave us on the mound," Randall said of his ace that's recorded 25 strikeouts over his past two games. "We walked their No. 8 and No. 9 guys to start the seventh inning, but Kyle dug deep to get us out of there with a win."
Palmer tossed all seven innings, walked eight and scattered four hits.
"Kyle has pitched injured for us all year, and at times (May 23) he missed spots, but he pitched fantastic," Randall said.
Madras second baseman Andrew Fine had a career day at the dish for the White Buffalos. The junior went three for four with four RBIs, including an RBI single in the first inning to score Brown and a two-run single in the fifth frame to score Bob Fine and Brown.
"I was so happy for Andrew because he was feeling down after striking out against Yamhill-Carlton with the game on the line, but Andrew came through for us in a big way," said Randall of Andrew Fine, who struck out with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning against Yamhill-Carlton with the bases loaded with one out during last week's Class 4A play-in round.
Fine also picked up what turned out to be the game-winning RBI in the top of the seventh inning with a single that scored Broc Sanders.
"Andrew was clutch at the plate and erased a bad memory," Randall said.
Brown finished three for thee at the plate and scored two runs, but it was his defensive plays that perhaps saved the game for Madras.
"I think Jordan had 15-16 blocks and it was the best game Jordan has ever played behind the plate," Randall said. "I think he realized that could have been his last game, and he blocked some very tough breaking balls by Palmer to save runs."
The game time for Friday's quarterfinal contest will be announced later today. The winner will advance to the semifinals to be played next week against the winner of another quarterfinal game Friday between North Valley (20-5) and Sisters (24-3). Ontario won the Greater Oregon League regular season title with an 11-1 record, while Madras finished second in the Tri-Valley Conference with a 10-5 record.