After tying for second in league, Gaston will need to earn its state playoff bid this week
by: Chase Allgood, Gaston junior Levi Watkins delivers a pitch during last Tuesday’s 17-1, mercy-rule victory over Faith Bible in Northwest League baseball action.

When life gives you lemons, as the saying goes, you make lemonade. That's exactly what the Gaston baseball team hopes to do on Thursday as the Greyhounds head into the Northwest League playoffs needing back-to-back wins to secure a berth in the 2A/1A state playoffs.

Gaston closed out the regular season last week with three wins over Faith Bible, finishing in a tie for second place with Portland Christian. The Royals hold the tiebreaking advantage, however, meaning Gaston will enter the league playoffs as the No. 3 seed and will need to beat Faith Bible on Thursday afternoon, then turn around and beat Portland Christian the same day to earn a spot in the state playoffs, which begin next Wednesday.

'We're excited and nervous at the same time,' said Gaston head coach Sean Casey. 'We know we can do it, but we'll have to play two complete games.'

The Greyhounds find themselves in this situation because of poor weather and an early-season scheduling quirk that forced them to play six games in one week - all on the road - against Portland Christian and Knappa, the top two teams in the league. Gaston lost only four games all season, but all four of them came during that brutal week, sinking the Hounds from championship contenders to third-place finishers.

'It's tough, because if we had won one more game that week, we'd have won the league championship,' explained Casey, whose team finished tied with Portland Christian and one game behind Knappa.

One benefit of that tough stretch of schedule was the fact that Casey didn't get to pitch his ace, Levi Watkins, against Portland Christian, so the Royals have yet to see the junior righthander, who struck out 102 batters in league play this year.

'We feel pretty good if we have him going into game two (on Thursday),' Casey said. 'I just hope we don't take Faith Bible lightly because we beat them last week. It's tough to beat a team four times, especially in such a short time.'

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