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Hawks rally to get quarterfinal victory

Horizon Christian just misses trip to the title tilt


by: DAN BROOD - POSTGAME FUN -- The Horizon Christian High School baseball team gets together following its 12-5 win over Pleasant Hill in a Class 3A state playoff quarterfinal game on Friday. The Hawks were edged 10-9 at Cascade Christian on Tuesday. TUALATIN — Sure, Pleasant Hill had an early 5-0 lead.

But the Horizon Christian High School baseball team didn’t hit the panic button — not even close.

That’s because the Hawks knew they were capable of rallying, they knew they had strong support, they knew they had motivation and they knew they could score runs, in a hurry.

With that in mind, Horizon scored 12 unanswered runs to get a 12-5 win over the Billies in a Class 3A state playoff quarterfinal game played Friday at Horizon Christian High School.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Horizon Christian senior Camden Muller, who picked up the pitching win in the quarterfinal contest. “This is the team that put us out last year (the Billies got a 7-6 win over Horizon in the 2013 Class 3A state title game), so to put them to bed is surreal. It’s a special feeling.”

“To come back like we did is really exciting,” Horizon Christian freshman Chase Cosner said. “We all built off each other’s momentum, and we all believe in each other.”

Pleasant Hill finished its season with a final overall record of 20-7. Horizon Christian, the West Valley League champion, improved to 25-4 on the season to that point. The Hawks, who opened the playoffs May 28 with a 7-6 win over Burns, also advanced to play at Cascade Christian in Tuesday’s state playoff semifinal round.

“This is pretty special,” Muller said of Horizon’s playoff run. “Words can’t describe it.”

The Hawks had to come from behind on Friday to continue that playoff run. Pleasant Hill, scoring four runs in the top of the first inning, and another in the third, jumped out to a quick 5-0 advantage.

“We made some errors, and I walked a few, but we knew we could come right back,” Muller said.

They did. The Hawks answered back, scoring five runs in the bottom of the third inning to tie the game at 5-5.

Cosner, reaching base on a fielder’s choice grounder, scored the first run, coming on a bases-loaded sacrifice by Muller. Later in the frame, sophomore Weston Groth doubled in both senior Kyle Esquerra and junior Colton Cosner, and junior Koby Pearson singled in both Groth and senior Samson Schweiger to knot up the game.

Horizon then scored three runs in the fifth inning, all coming with two outs. Junior Nate McGill drew a walk and ended up scoring on a single by Chase Cosner, giving the Hawks their first lead of the game at 6-5.

“Nate started us off,” Muller said. “I think we got in the pitcher’s head.”

From there, Esquerra singled in junior Trent Pihas and Chase Cosner scored on a Colton Cosner single to give the home team an 8-5 lead.

The Hawks, getting an RBI from McGill, a two-run single from Pihas and a sacrifice fly from Chase Cosner, added on four more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to wrap up the 12-8 victory.

“The dugout got us going,” Muller said of the come-from-behind win. “They’re our 10th man. We have great support from everyone.”

“We just kept going,” Chase Cosner said.

Horizon Christian had 13 hits in the victory.

Esquerra and Colton Cosner each went 3 for 4 at the plate, each with a run scored and an RBI. Chase Cosner went 2 for 4 with two runs scored and two RBIs. Pihas went 2 for 5 with two runs scored and two RBIs. Groth and Pearson each drove in two runs and Schweiger and McGill each scored a pair of runs.

In the May 28 win over Burns, the Horizon Christian overcame another 5-0 deficit. The Hawks scored one run in the fourth inning of that game, two in the fifth, one in the sixth and three in the seventh to get the walk-off 7-6 victory.

*****

The Hawks saw their season come to a close with a 10-9 loss to Cascade Christian in a Class 3A state playoff semifinal game played Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Community Park in Medford.

“We took it as far as we could go,” said Horizon Christian coach Alex Esquerra, who is stepping down as the Hawks’ coach. “We have no regrets. We left our best on the field. I’m proud of our guys.”

Horizon Christian held a 7-2 lead going into the bottom of the fifth inning of the semifinal contest. But the Challengers scored eight runs in the final three frames to get the come-from-behind win.

“They’re a good team,” Esquerra said. “They just kept stringing together hits.”

Muller had three hits, including a triple, in the contest. The Hawks also got two hits apiece from Chase Cosner, Kyle Esquerra, Colton Cosner, Groth and Schweiger.

The semifinal game marked the final high school contest for Horizon Christian seniors Kyle Esquerra, Muller, Mitch Sheldon and Schweiger.

“We played with a lot of heart,” Alex Esquerra said. “And I think this is the best team I’ve ever coached when it comes to chemistry.”

Horizon assistant Ray Pearson will take over as the Hawks’ head coach in 2015.



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