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Valiants roll into 3A state

Valley Catholic hammers Rainier, then heads out on the road to Burns
by: Miles Vance FULL OUT — Valley Catholic first baseman Carter Buuck dives to tag first base during his team’s 11-2 home win over Rainier on May 19.

BEAVERTON - The Valiants got hot.

With playoff seeding and pride on the line May 17, the Valley Catholic baseball team just flat put the hammer down on Rainier.

The Valiants led the Columbians just 3-1 going into the bottom of the fifth inning of their Lewis and Clark League playoff game at Valley Catholic High School, then poured across eight more to power their 11-2 victory.

'It's definitely what we needed going into the playoffs next week,' said center fielder Ryan Foote, who went 3-for-4 at the plate, knocked in two runs and scored twice. 'It's what we're going for.'

'We didn't play that well against Blanchet on Tuesday, and we had to come back from that,' said pitcher/shortstop Cesar Catibayan, who went 2-for-3 at the plate with one RBI and one run scored, and also threw four innings of one-run ball, allowing four hits and one walk while striking out seven. 'And putting up 11 runs against a good Rainier team and a good pitcher ought to bring more confidence when we go against other good teams.'

The win lifted Valley Catholic's overall record to 18-8, gave the Valiants a third win over Rainier in four tries, and sent them in to the Class 3A state playoffs with the L and C's second seed. Valley Catholic played at Burns (16-7 and the second-place team from the Eastern Oregon Conference) yesterday after the Valley Times' press deadline. With a win there, the Valiants would either host Santiam Christian or play at Horizon Christian in Friday's Class 3A quarterfinals.

Rainier fell to 13-10 overall and advanced to play at Bandon (20-3), the Sunset League champion, yesterday.

In the win over Rainier, the Columbians started fast, getting back-to-back doubles at the start of the game from Ethan McGlone and Bradley Tripp to take a 1-0 lead.

But that was all Catibayan would allow - he struck out five of seven hitters in one stretch and didn't allow another hit until Tyler Strenke singled into left field with two outs in the fourth.

Offensively, the Valiants pushed across two runs in the bottom of the first, getting walks to Catibayan and Jackson Neff, and an RBI single to right by Nick Quandt that also brought home a second run on a Rainier error.

VC made it 3-1 in the second when Liam Meagher reached base on an error, advanced on a Foote hit, and scored when Catibayan singled up the middle.

Then, the Valiants opened the offensive floodgates in the fifth, an inning highlighted by RBI singles from Carter Buuck, Jarrett Gray and Nick McDevitt, and by run-scoring doubles from Foote and Neff.

'I feel like a couple hits here and there really got the game going,' Catibayan said. 'Kids got more confident, started having fun, and we started getting a vibe going and hitting the ball.'

'The most important thing out of today, more so than the seeding or the RPI, was just the chance to play another good team and really hit up and down the lineup,' added Valley Catholic coach Pat Thomas.

Besides Foote and Catibayan's success, Neff went 2-for-3, scored twice and knocked in one, and McDevitt went 2-for-3, scored once and knocked in one.

Buuck pitched the final three innings, allowing one run on two hits and no walks while striking out two.