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St. Helens baseball on the upswing

Lions look for offense to complement all-state defense


SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Lions senior Quintin Galvin was an all-Northwest Oregon Conference ____ last seasonThis time the Lions will do it with offense.

St. Helens allowed three runs per game, second only to Class 5A state runner-up Liberty, as it reached the first round of state, its first such trip in six years.

The Lions scored four runs per contest last season as they took third in the Northwest Oregon Conference to Liberty and Wilsonville.

“Our team speed is faster this year, and I think we’re going to open it up on offense,” St. Helens coach Jeff Timmons said. “It was a race to three last year, and this year we’ll try to make it a race to five.”

The Lions moved into team defense, bunt defense and baserunning this week in advance of Monday’s 5 p.m. season opener at Marist, also back from the first round of state, in Eugene.

”Last year our defense was phenomenal,” Timmons said. “We graduated eight seniors, but we have a good core back.”

All-Northwest Oregon Conference senior pitcher/infielder Bryce Mulcahy enters his fourth varsity year, and all-conference senior outfielder Quintin Galvin returns.

“Any time you have your shortstop and second-baseman back, it’s great,” Timmons said.

Senior first baseman Beau Mason, whom Timmons regards as the key to the defense, and senior infielder Justin Henningson help to keep runs off the board.

Junior third baseman Garrett Sukau and junior catcher/outfielder Haidon Allen lend their expertise on offense.

“We graduated eight kids, but we’re replacing them with kids who could have played varsity last year if there were space,” Timmons said. “The league lost more kids than we did, especially Liberty and Putnam [which reached the state quarterfinals]. La Salle is up-and-coming, and I see us in the mix for the league championship.”

The Lions also face Jesuit (back from the second round of Class 6A state), Sunset and Lake Oswego (both of which reached the first round of Class 6A state), Wilsonville (a Class 5A state first-rounder last season), and Astoria, which reached the Class 4A quarterfinals.

“We’re excited to play really tough competition, especially because our league is one of the toughest in the state,” Timmons said. “When you play against good opponents, the higher your RPI. The higher your RPI, the better chance you have for a home game.”

The Lions beat visiting Hermiston 1-0 in their state play-in.

“I don’t know if we win that one on the road,” Timmons said. “I’m excited for another trip to the playoffs.”

The Lions won Class AA state championships in 1980 and 1989.

Schedule

March 14 at Marist, 5 p.m., in Eugene

March 15 at Sunset, 5 p.m.

March 18 vs. Jesuit, 5 p.m.

March 21 vs. Astoria, 12:30 p.m., Glencoe Spring Break Tournament, at Hillsboro Stadium

March 22 at Glencoe Spring Break Tournament, at Hillsboro Stadium

March 23 at Glencoe Spring Break Tournament, at Hillsboro Stadium

March 29 vs. Centennial, 5 p.m.

March 30 vs. Roosevelt, 4:30 p.m.

April 1 at Lake Oswego, 5 p.m.

April 5 at La Salle Prep, 5 p.m.

April 6 vs. La Salle Prep, 5 p.m.

April 8 vs. Milwaukie, 5 p.m.

April 12 at Milwaukie, 5 p.m.

April 13 at Parkrose, 5 p.m.

April 15 vs. Parkrose, 5 p.m.

April 20 at Benson, 5 p.m.

April 22 at Wilsonville, 5 p.m.

April 26 vs. Wilsonville, 5 p.m.

April 27 vs. Sandy, 5 p.m.

April 29 at Sandy, 5 p.m.

May 3 vs. Hillsboro, 5 p.m.

May 4 at Hillsboro, 5 p.m.

May 6 at Liberty, 5 p.m.

May 10 vs. Liberty, 5 p.m.

May 11 vs. Putnam, 5 p.m.

May 13 at Putnam, 5 p.m.