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Banks baseball walks it off against South Umpqua in Class 4A first round

Justin Bral delivers winning hit in bottom of the eighth for Braves


The Braves are surely breathing a sigh of relief after this one.NEWS-TIMES PHOTOS: CHASE ALLGOOD - Hayden Vandehey hugs Gunnar Partain and yells as he celebrates crossing home for the winning run Wednesday.

They lived to see another day – or more precisely, at least two – after Justin Bral recorded an RBI base hit to score Hayden Vandehey in a 6-5 walk-off victory over South Umpqua on Wednesday.

The win, which came at home in the first round of the Class 4A baseball state playoffs, put Banks in the state quarterfinals for the first time since 1997. The second-seeded Braves (23-4) are scheduled to host No. 10 Elmira on Friday at 4 p.m. at Ron Tonkin Field in Hillsboro. The Falcons scored an 8-5 upset win over No. 7 Philomath in the first round.

Wednesday’s outing was a back and forth affair. The Lancers (16-12) of Myrtle Creek led 2-1 after one inning and then went up 3-1 in the fifth, only to watch Banks go off for four runs in the bottom half for a 5-3 lead. But the upset-minded visitors tied it up in the sixth, setting the stage for Bral’s extra-innings heroics.

Just a freshman, Hayden Vandehey put himself in position to be the winning run when he lined a pitch from Cody Gray to left field for a single with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning.

He eventually advanced to third base, setting the stage for Bral, the No. 9 hitter in Banks’ lineup. Bral also sent his hit to left field, delivering the program’s first state playoff win since 2004.

Back in the first, Donny McClean knocked a single to center field to score Gunnar Partain and halve South Umpqua’s initial lead to 2-1.

During that busy bottom of the fifth, Bral and Partain both drew walks before Casey McGough flew out to right field. Then Trevor Thiessen came up with a big two-RBI double to tie the game at 3-3.

After Thiessen took third on a passed ball, McClean walked and then stole second. Jake Evans gave the Braves their first lead at 4-3 with a sacrifice fly to plate Thiessen, and McClean scored before Logan St. Marie popped up to end the frame.

South Umpqua, which knocked out 2015 state champion Scappoose in the play-in round, scratched out two runs in the sixth to tie the game at 5-5, which is how the score stayed until the eighth.

Banks did almost cash in during the bottom of the sixth after Vandehey doubled and then advanced to third on a groundout. But he was caught trying to come home after Partain bunted into a fielder’s choice, so the winning run had to wait a couple more innings.

Braves ace David Schorn lasted 5.2 innings in a no-decision outing. He allowed eight hits, five earned runs and two walks while striking out four. Dalton Renne, who threw the final 2.1 innings, also had four strikeouts and gave up two hits to pick up the win. Gray was third pitcher of the game for South Umpqua, the No. 2 team out of the Far West League. He threw the final three innings for the Lancers and took the loss.