Crusaders cage Grizzlies and Lions in state playoffs
Timely hitting keys the team's run to the Class 6A state semifinals
BEAVERTON - The 2011 season ended a game too soon for the Jesuit baseball team, the Crusaders' state-championship hopes wiped out in an 18-0 Class 6A state semifinal loss at Westview on Tuesday.
But the Crusaders were brilliant until then, beating West Linn 9-4 in their May 26 second-round game, then ousting McMinnville 6-0 in Friday's state quarterfinal.
Jesuit 6, McMinnville 0
Despite the final score, the win over McMinnville didn't come easily. Jesuit led the Grizzlies - who had won 13 straight before Friday - just 1-0 at Jesuit High School until the bottom of the fifth inning when senior first baseman Blake Evetts stepped up to win the game.
Evetts, facing McMinnville ace Chris Haddeland, jumped on a 2-1 pitch and drove it over the right-field fence for a grand slam home run that extended his team's lead to 5-0 and powered Jesuit's shutout victory. The win lifted Jesuit's overall record to 20-10 after a third-place finish in the Metro League, while McMinnville - the Pacific Conference co-champion - ended its year at 23-7.
'We had a lot of confidence in our team,' said junior second baseman Peter Dempsey. 'We didn't have a lot of experience, but we knew if we came together as a team and really built a strong community, we could go far, and we did.'
'I've got to say it was the team bonding and team chemistry that got us where we are now,' added senior shortstop Quinn McLafferty. 'It's really disappointing right now. I think it's a sign of things to come.'
Haddeland added a little more excitement to the day when his next pitch sailed behind the back of designated hitter Robert Strys and was ejected from the game. McMinnville's left fielder was also ejected from the game in that fifth inning.
For its part, Jesuit got a strong effort from freshman starter Christian Martinek, who didn't allow a hit until the top of the sixth inning, struck out 12 and hit four in just his third start of the season.
The Crusaders pushed across the game's first run in the bottom of the first when Harrison Bruce reached base on a McMinnville error and scored later on an infield groundout.
For the game, Evetts went 2-for-3, scored once and knocked in four, and also threw the final 1-2/3 innings and struck out three.
Jesuit 9, West Linn 4
Jesuit did just about everything right against West Linn.
The Crusaders, hosting the Lions in the second round of the playoffs, outhit West Linn 13-8, didn't commit an error and racked up a 6-0 lead before finally settling for a 9-4 victory.
'We came out with intensity. We did what we wanted. We played good defense,' said Jesuit junior left fielder Peter Davis, who went 3-for-3 at the plate, scored one run and knocked in two others. 'It was a great day for us today.'
'We came out as a team really ready to go, really geared up and ready to swing the bat,' said Bruce, who went 3-for-4, tripled, homered, scored twice and drove in three.
The Lions, second in the Three Rivers League, ended their season at 21-8.
The Crusaders got their offense rolling right from the start against the Lions, getting a leadoff triple to left field from Bruce off West Linn starter James Coghill, then taking a 1-0 lead when Dempsey singled to left.
Jesuit then pushed across four more runs in the bottom of the second inning, getting a leadoff walk and a stolen base by Strys, an RBI single up the middle by Davis, another hit from Bradley Gaman, and then a three-run homer to right by Bruce off Coghill.
The Crusaders then boosted that edge to 6-0 in the bottom of the third when Strys singled to left off reliever Zach Shuholm, took second on a passed ball, and scored on Davis' hit to right.
That was plenty to get Jesuit starter Gaman off and rolling. He allowed just one run in the game's first six innings, scattering five hits in that stretch while also striking out four and walking three. That first West Linn run came when DJ Clark drilled a shot into the left field net in the fifth, and when Davis slipped at the warning track, his feet slid under the fence and got stuck there, allowing Clark to race all the way home to score.
Jesuit tacked on two more runs in the fifth when Matt Decker doubled to the left field net and Dempsey added another RBI single, and got its final score in the sixth when Buddy Webb doubled and scored on a Bruce hit.
West Linn finally got its offense untracked in the top of the seventh, getting a leadoff double to left by Clark, a single by Brett Wilkerson, a two-run double down the left-field line by Ben Trussell, and an RBI single to left from Clayton Gelfand to make it 9-4.
Gaman struck out Riley Wilkerson for the second out of the inning, walked Kevin Kawasaki to end his day on the mound, then gave way to Evetts, who got Jordan Porter on a grounder to end the game.
'We always come out to do our thing,' Davis said. 'Coming from the Metro League we're used to that tough competition.'
'From Day One, we've been waiting for this opportunity to show people what we can do,' Bruce said. 'We've been preparing for it all year.'
'It was really clean,' added Jesuit coach Tim Massey. 'The kids played really solid defense.'
In addition to Bruce and Davis' success at the plate, Strys went 2-for-3 and scored once in the win. For West Linn, Trussell went 2-for-4 and knocked in two runs, Clark went 2-for-3 knocked in one and scored twice, and Taylor Flores was 2-for-2.