Portland Christian claims the victory
Gaston's baseball season came to a sudden and emotional end last week.
After finishing third in the Northwest League with a 14-4 record (17-7 overall), the Greyhounds had to play a doubleheader at Pacific University last Thursday with a berth in the Class 2A/1A state playoffs on the line.
Gaston coach Sean Casey rolled the dice in the Hounds' first game against Faith Bible. Casey decided to start his No. 2 pitcher, Trevor Reynolds, so he could have staff ace Levi Watkins available for Portland Christian in the second game of the day.
'We knew we were going to have a tough team coming up with Portland Christian,' Casey said. 'We were trying to save our No. 1 pitcher for the second game.'
Reynolds, a freshman, got off to a shaky start against Faith Bible. He gave up three runs in the first inning and another run in the second inning. He finally settled down and posted scoreless frames in the third and fourth innings.
'We kept him in there and he settled down by the third inning,' Casey said. 'The third and fourth innings, he threw really well. He is a freshman, so I don't know if maybe his nerves got to him.'
Gaston then brought in Dusty Brown, who closed out the game with three scoreless innings.
The Hounds, however, were unable to get runners across the plate in the first five innings. Gaston went into the sixth inning trailing 4-0.
'Faith Bible was playing pretty much the best they've played all year,' Casey said. 'They were playing bulletproof defense - on ground balls they were making all the plays and on fly balls they were catching them.'
Then, Gaston put together a five-run rally in the sixth inning to secure a 5-4 win.
'It was kind of an emotional win, even though we knew we could beat them,' Casey said.
The Hounds' joy was short lived. Coming off that nerve-wracking win, Gaston just did not have enough left in the tank to handle Portland Christian.
Watkins, a junior, began the game with three shutout innings. With the score 0-0 going into the fourth, the Hounds gave up three runs. Gaston came back with two runs of their own. Portland Christian then added two more runs in the fifth inning. Gaston once again got close, pulling the score within 5-4 in their half of the fifth.
'Every time we'd get within one they'd come back and answer,' Casey said.
Portland Christian's next answer spelled the end of Gaston's season.
Things fell apart for the Hounds in the sixth. Portland Christian scored nine runs and 10-runned Gaston by a final score of 14-4.
'It was close until then,' Casey said. 'We just fell apart there.'
Even though the season has ended, after going 1-23 two years ago and 7-17 last season, a 17-7 record and chance to play for a berth in the state playoffs is a huge accomplishment.
'I know a lot of the parents and kids were pretty happy going from a couple (losing seasons) to 17-7 this year,' Casey said. 'A lot of people were very happy getting that far.'
Now, Casey hopes that the Hounds take what they have accomplished and continue to build upon it.
'I'm hoping that they don't get content and that everybody gets hungry to use that as a tool to work harder in the offseason and get a little more prepared to try to get a little deeper into the playoffs,' Casey said.
Casey's last message to the team was simple, but important.
'I tried to tell the guys that we need to try to get beyond this next year.'