Sisters gets assist from Mother Nature in a 7-5 playoff victory

SISTERS - The unheralded Gladstone Gladiators had a heartbreaking ending to their 2011 baseball season.

Ranked 17th in the state, the Gladiators gave the seventh-ranked Sky-Em champion Sisters Outlaws a run for their money, yielding 7-5 in 10 innings in a May 26 first-round Class 4A state playoff game at Sisters.

'The kids played hard,' said Gladstone coach Casey Webster. 'They came ready to play and we had our opportunities, but we couldn't get the big hit when the game was tied….

'I'm proud of them for their effort and I feel for the seniors. They worked hard and they've been a great group to coach. It was a heartbreaker.'

The contest was a battle all the way. The Glads put four runs on the scoreboard in the first three innings to forge a 4-0 lead. Sisters answered with four runs in the bottom of the fourth and went ahead 5-4 with a single tally in the fifth.

The Glads knotted the score at 5-5 in the top of the seventh when Kenny Simac doubled, moved to third on Joe Baker's sacrifice fly and scored on a wild pitch.

The score remained that way until the 10th frame. Sisters freshman Joey Morgan led off the inning with a base hit, and scored the game-winner on a two-run homerun over the right field fence by senior Erik Carlson.

The Outlaws had Mother Nature on their side. It was a cool day, with a blustery wind. In the fourth inning, when the Outlaws knotted the score with a four-run rally, three of the runs scored on a wind-aided, pop-fly double that dropped just inside the right-field line.

'It was kind of ironic, but it was just like two years ago, when they beat us in the playoffs with a wind-aided double down the line,' Webster said.

The Gladiators started the game strong, scoring three runs in the second inning on three hits, a walk and an error. Cody Feb sparked the rally with a run-scoring double, Drew Walters drove in a run with a base hit, and the third run scored on an error.

The Gladiators added a single tally in the fourth, when Hector Campos followed up a base hit by Baker with a run-scoring double.

Baker went 3-for-4 at the plate to lead the Gladiators to an 11-10 edge in hitting. Simac and Eamon Burrell both went 2-for-5.

Walters pitched a strong game in relief of Campos, striking out six, walking one, and allowing six hits and three runs in 6-2/3 innings of relief.

All of Sisters' runs were earned.

The win advanced the Outlaws (23-3, 14-1) to a quarterfinal match-up with Cowapa League champion Astoria (21-2), which finished the regular season fifth in the OSAA RPI rankings.

Gladstone, the runner-up to La Salle in the Tri-Valley Conference, finished up at 16-8 (11-4 in league).

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