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Banks trades wins against Valley Catholic

Braves win big in the teams' first meeting, but the Valiants rally to take the rematch

If you leave the door open just enough, sometimes the other team is going to walk through it.NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD
 - Banks senior Logan St. Marie connects with a pitch during last Wednesday's Cowapa League baseball game against Valley Catholic.

That happened to the Banks baseball team last Wednesday. In a matchup of two top-five teams, visiting Valley Catholic rallied with two runs in the seventh inning to pull out a 5-4 victory.

The result snapped a 10-game win streak for the No. 3 Braves — who fell to a team from Oregon for the first time this season — and came just a day after Banks laid a 15-2 beatdown on the second-ranked Valiants in Beaverton.

“We could tell. Once they came back, they were all excited. They were hungry. They wanted us,” senior designated hitter Logan St. Marie said of the rematch. “They deserved this game, honestly. We weren’t here. We weren’t ready. But we’ll come tomorrow for practice and come back Friday.”

The unraveling happened quickly in that final inning, when Kevin Eckrosh led off with a double off Dylan Renne, launching the ball nearly to the fence in left field. Eckrosh then forced a tie after Tim Magenheimer put the ball in play in his at-bat and it rolled past Donny McClean in center field.

With Magenheimer standing on second base, Makoa Nakamura then flew out to Jake Evans in right field. The Braves tried to get Magenheimer out with a relay to third base, but the second throw was off target and sailed out of play, granting Magenheimer a free base for what turned out to be the winning run.

Banks (14-4, 10-1) was retired in order in the bottom half, though McClean did launch a beautiful hit to center field that almost left the yard, only to land in Chris Rapp’s glove instead.

“Donny hit a really nice hit at the very end of the game,” Evans noted. “That kid made one heck of a play.”

Way before all of the dramatics, the Braves loaded the bases in the first but came away empty-handed. The Valiants (12-3, 7-2) struck first when Ethan Cape produced an RBI base hit in the third inning.

The hosts answered in the bottom half with a two-out rally. After Trevor Thiessen and McClean reached base on consecutive Valley Catholic fielding errors, Evans bombed a two-RBI triple to left-center to bring them both home. He also scored — on yet another fielding error — to give Banks a momentary 3-1 lead.

 - Banks' Gunnar Partain prepares to make a throw to first base after fielding a ground ball in last Wednesday's game against Valley Catholic.
Valley Catholic tied the game in the top of the fourth, when Alex Tranquill was ruled safe on a close play at the plate and Magenheimer hit a run-scoring single up the middle.

But the Braves seized control in the sixth, going ahead on Gunnar Partain’s sacrifice fly to center. That plated St. Marie, who had led off with a double to left. Banks had a chance to add more runs but stranded two instead, setting the stage for the Valiants’ imminent comeback.

“I thought we had them, for sure,” St. Marie said. “We were up for that moment, then we went down all of a sudden. That’s just how it goes, I guess.”

Alex Hyland gave up five hits and struck out five to pick up the win, while Renne took the loss.

The setback came just a day after the Braves lit up Valley Catholic on the road. That contest was tied at 2-2 through three innings, but Banks’ offense came alive with four runs in the fourth, two in both the fifth and sixth, and five more in the seventh for a commanding victory.

“Yesterday felt good,” St. Marie said. “We were a little slow at the beginning, but once we started scoring, we were definitely in the game. We were set.”

Evans had three hits, an RBI and three runs scored, St. Marie recorded two hits and two runs scored, and Casey McGough added two hits, an RBI and a run scored. Dakota Bunn and Hayden Vandehey supplied three RBIs each.

David Schorn kept his undefeated run going on the mound, striking out three while scattering five hits and three walks over seven innings.

After the Wednesday loss, the Braves looked to rebound against No. 13 Astoria, and they did in a big way, with a 7-0 home victory on Friday. Banks outhit the visitors 9-1 and took advantage of five Fishermen errors. The hosts scored one run in the bottom of the first and then exploded for six in the fourth to move ahead comfortably.

Kylan Taylor and McClean had two hits, a run scored and an RBI each, while McGough had a hit, two RBIs and two runs scored. On the mound, Evans gave up eight walks in a complete-game effort but also just the single hit, and he fanned two over seven innings.

Though the Braves did not like the taste of defeat in that second Valley game, the 2-1 week set them up well for the stretch run. The Valiants turned back Tillamook, 5-2, on Monday, so Banks entered Tuesday’s round of play with a one-game lead atop the Cowapa League standings with six conference contests to go.

“We feel good because right now we’re sitting on top still even with a loss,” Evans said. “But we just gotta know we gotta keep playing good baseball, as Banks baseball has been doing lately. We just gotta put this one behind us.”

Results of Tuesday’s game at Astoria were unavailable at press deadline. Banks is scheduled to travel to Tillamook today and Scappoose on Friday.