baseball -- Forest Grove Junior State squad makes a late-season playoff push
Forest Grove's Junior State baseball team put itself in playoff position with an impressive 2-0 win over second-place Scappoose last Friday.
Forest Grove, powered by a stellar outing from Aaron Huson, handed Scappoose just its second league loss of the season. The win could potentially give Forest Grove a tiebreaking advantage against any of the other teams in the league, should the squad find itself mired in a tie when the regular season draws to a close this week.
Mitch Ooley knocked in both runs for Forest Grove, plating Tony Pacheco with a sacrifice fly in the second inning and knocking in Austin Howarth with an RBI single in the fifth.
But it was Huson who was the difference for Forest Grove.
Huson fired a complete game masterpiece, striking out six batters and allowing just four hits over seven innings of work. He walked only two hitters and kept the Scappoose lineup off-balance all afternoon.
'He was phenomenal,' said Forest Grove coach Joe Baumgartner. 'He was definitely the story of the game.'
With that win under their belts, Forest Grove had a chance to lock up either a third- or fourth-place finish with a win over St. Helens on Sunday - a victory that would have assured Forest Grove a first-round home game in the playoffs. Unfortunately, a slew of fielding errors opened the door for seven unearned runs and St. Helens walked away with a 9-5 triumph in the final league game of the season.
'It was everything,' said Baumgartner. 'We kicked grounders, we dropped fly balls, we made mental mistakes. It all kind of went wrong for us.'
St. Helens scored a pair of runs in the top of the first, but Forest Grove rallied to go back on top 4-2 by the fifth inning. Taylor Vandecoevering ripped an RBI single in the bottom of the first and Steve Lucero drove in a run with a base knock in the second. Pacheco made it 3-2 in the second with an RBI groundout.
Forest Grove's wheels fell off in the fifth, however, as St. Helens erupted for five runs to take a 7-4 lead they would not relinquish. The Saints added two more runs in the top of the seventh - their first two earned runs of the game.
Brett Thompson and Howarth hit back-to-back singles for Forest Grove in the bottom of the seventh, and Thompson eventually came around to score on a bases-loaded walk by Huson, but it was too little, too late.