Kingsmen, Mustangs exit the 5A playoffs
Putnam and Milwaukie both met their match in last week's first round of the 16-team Class 5A high school baseball playoffs.
The Kingsmen struggled to connect with runners in scoring position and lost at 11th-ranked Crescent Valley 5-3, while the 21st-ranked Mustangs booted the ball around, committing five errors, in a 5-0 loss at fourth-ranked North Eugene.
'The kids played hard and had a good season, but the ball didn't bounce our way,' said Putnam coach Jason Stanley.
The Kingsmen left runners on base in every inning except the second, but they went scoreless in the last four innings.
Crescent Valley went ahead for good in the bottom of the third, scoring three runs on three hits, an error and a run-scoring groundout. Putnam was up 3-1 after 2-1/2 innings of play.
The Kingsmen scored one run in the first inning on a base hit by Trace Loehr, a wild pitch and a run-scoring single by Sean Eberhardt.
They added two runs in the top of the third. Eli Skiles tripled and scored on a wild pitch. Loehr and Eberhardt reached on errors, advanced on a sacrifice by Nate Edwards, and Loehr scored on a fielder's choice by Matt Harvey.
Eberhardt pitched a complete game, striking out six and walking three, while yielding seven hits.
Eberhardt (3-for-4) also led the Kingsmen at the plate.
Crescent Valley pitcher Grant Mattes (6 strikeouts, 2 walks) gave up six hits.
'He had a fastball and curve and he located really well,' Stanley said of Mattes.
The Kingsmen graduate four players who started in last week's game at Crescent Valley, Eberhardt (pitcher), Harvey (second base), Andy Fry (outfield) and Garret Therrell (catcher).
'I feel good about next year,' said Stanley. 'Hopefully this group has started a legacy, where we make the playoffs year-end and year-out.'
It wasn't only lackluster defense that proved the difference in Milwaukie's 5-0 loss to North Eugene. North ace Andrew Moore pitched a two-hitter, sending 16 Milwaukie batters down swinging, while issuing only one free pass.
'He was pretty good,' Milwaukie coach Dan Lee said of the Midwestern Conference pitcher of the year. 'He throws pretty hard and he can throw three pitches for strikes.'
Zach Enriquez led off the game with a base hit up the middle and Andrew Marquez led off the fifth inning with a drag-bunt single for Milwaukie's only hits of the game
Milwaukie's only scoring threat came in the first inning, when Enriquez advanced to third base with only one out. However Moore sent the next two Milwaukie batters down swinging to end the inning.
North Eugene got only four hits off of Milwaukie pitchers Keynan Middleton and Marquez. The talented duo allowed only four hits, while striking out three and walking one. But Milwaukie's five errors led to three unearned runs.
North scored runs in four different innings.
'North Eugene is a really good team,' said Lee. 'We would have had to play our best game of the year to have a chance, and we didn't do that. I think we were a bit wide-eyed and awestruck.'
Lee added, 'We got a lot done this year, just not today. We ended a long stretch of not being very good. Hopefully we've turned the corner where we can make making the playoffs a rule, rather than the exception. We've got a lot of talent coming back, but they've got to put in the time.'
Starters for the Mustangs in their final with North Eugene included: seniors Blake Sanders (catcher), Marquez (first base), Enriquez (shortstop), Zach Calwhite (outfield) and Justin Riley (outfield); juniors Middleton (pitcher) and Ryan Harp (second base); and sophomores Steven Yerman (third base) and Jason Espinoza (outfield).
Putnam, which placed third in the Northwest Oregon Conference, finished with an overall record of 14-11; Milwaukie, the No. 5 team in the eight-team conference, went 10-15.