Gladiators advance to the final 16 in 4A baseball

GLADSTONE - Tri-Valley Conference runner-up Gladstone rallied around senior reliever Drew Walters and junior infielder Trace Webster to win a 6-4 nailbiter from Seaside in a May 19 Class 4A baseball play-in game at Gladstone.

Walters (4 strikeouts, 2 walks) took over for Gladstone ace Hector Campos (one strikeout, 3 walks, 5 hits) on the mound with the score tied at 4-4 and two runners on in the top of the fourth and held the Seagulls hitless and scoreless the rest of the way.

Webster went 2-for-4 at the plate, driving in four runs, including the game-winners.

'Hector wasn't real sharp,' said Gladstone coach Casey Webster. 'He had a tough time with his breaking pitches. It was not one of his better games. But our kids hung in there and got the hits when they needed them.'

Webster said of Walters, 'Drew is a competitor. I like putting Drew in in that situation because he competes and he doesn't let anything bother him. He was big for us. No doubt about it.'

The game was a battle all the way. Gladstone earned only a 6-5 edge in hitting and each team committed three errors.

Seaside went up 1-0 in the top of the first on a double by Eddie Soller (2-for-3), a Gladstone fielding error and a run-scoring sacrifice fly by Ian Hawksford.

Gladstone took advantage of Seaside pitcher control problems to answer with three runs in the bottom of the first.

Kenny Simac walked, Joe Baker singled, Campos walked, and Webster forced in a run with a walk.

Eamon Burrell's two-out singled up the middle brought two more Gladstone runs across.

Seaside got a run back in the top of the third. Jon Perry doubled, advanced on Andy Pittard's sacrifice, and scored on a groundout by Hawksford.

Webster led off Gladstone's half of the third with a solo home run, upping the Glads' lead to 4-2.

But the Gulls weren't through. Seaside loaded up the bases in the top of the fourth on a base hit by Jason Pfund and walks by Soller and Perry.

Pittard followed with a two-out, two-run double down the third base line, and it was a 4-4 ball game.

Enter Walters, who shut Seaside batters down the rest of the way.

And Trace Webster went to work with his bat again in the bottom of the fourth. Simac led off the inning with a walk, Baker reached on an error, and Webster brought two more runs around with a base hit up the middle.

Joel Slovak pitched for Seaside, striking out three and walking five.

The win advanced Gladstone (16-7, 11-4) to the 16-team state 4A playoffs. The Gladiators' opener was scheduled this afternoon at seventh-ranked Sisters (22-3, 14-1), the No. 1 team from the Sky-Em League.

In a game played earlier last week, the Gladiators closed out their Tri-Valley season on a winning note, defeating Molalla on the road, 10-4.

The Gladiators reached four Molalla pitchers for 10 hits, and eight different Gladstone players hit safely.

The Gladiators put four runs on the scoreboard in the third frame, when Bryan Pope, Sean Murphy, Walters and Webster all made contact for base hits, and Dalton Moe smacked a two-run double.

Still, it wasn't until the top of the fifth that the Gladiators pushed the winning run across. With the score tied at 4-4, Walters reached in the fifth on a base on balls, advanced into scoring position on a sacrifice by Moe, and scored on a base hit by Baker.

Webster (3-for-4, 3 RBI) added a two-run single in a five-run seventh inning.

Burrell pitched the first five innings, striking out one, walking three and allowing seven hits.

Walters (2 strikeouts, no walks, 2 hits) finished up in relief.

Webster (.438, 24 RBI) was the Gladiators' leading hitter through play last week. Baker was hitting .409 and Campos was hitting .380, with 25 RBI.

Campos (27 strikeouts in 40-1/3 innings) has a 2.26 ERA; Burrell (25 strikeouts in 43 innings) had a 3.42 ERA.

Walters has pitched 31 innings with 36 strikeouts and a 2.03 ERA.

'We're competing,' Casey Webster. said. 'We've got a great senior class and they've got a lot of drive.'

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