by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton junior pitcher Andrew Carter threw a complete game, five-hitter against Hillsboro on Monday to help the Beavers take the OIBA contest.

In its biggest game, with the season in crisis and it’s postseason livelihood at stake, the Beaverton baseball team didn’t produce the clutch hit.

Trailing 4-2 to a Tigard team they’d beaten earlier in the spring, the Beavers couldn’t bring home the tying or go-ahead runs in the bottom of the ninth on May 26, briskly ending a co-Metro title-winning season that once possessed lengthy postseason run promise.

The heart-rending loss left behind a lingering feeling of “what if,” but it also shed light on the Beavers’ demand for the pivotal base knock, the deciding blow late in the game that twists the outcome to Beaverton.

If Monday’s OIBA contest with Hillsboro is any sort of omen, the 2014 version of the Beavers are well on their way to putting their clutch moment yips out to pasture.

Tied 2-2 in the top of the seventh with a Spartan squad that reached the 6A semifinals last year, Beaverton senior first baseman Josh Hill drummed a ball underneath the drawn-in Hillsboro second baseman’s mitt to right, scoring Tovey Brown and Carrick Lava to go up 4-2. A sacrifice fly by Sam Noyer and a balk by the Hillsboro pitcher plated two more runs, and junior pitcher Andrew Carter induced three groundouts in the seventh to seal the 6-2 win.

“It’s nice when people can come clutch and score some runs,” said Josh Hill. “I was looking for a fastball in or up that I could drive to the outfield or somewhere far. The infield was playing in, so I wanted to get something in the air, so we could score a run.”

“When runners are on, we have to get them in,” added junior catcher Ryan Hill, who scored on Noyer’s sacrifice fly after getting intentionally walked. “We have to play small ball, maybe bunt over a couple guys to get them in scoring position. We really have to put the bat on the ball and lift it up.”by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton senior second baseman Robby Valentine tries to grab a ball in the dirt against Hillsboro.

One of the better relievers in Metro a year ago as a sophomore, Carter is making a strong case to join Noyer, Casey Cornwell and Nolan Lafollette in Beaverton’s already loaded starting rotation next spring. The junior righty threw a complete game, five-hitter in the 90-degree Hillsboro heat and overcame three Beaver errors to pick up the victory.

With his fastball acting erratic, Carter “went with the junk”, turning to a change-up that stayed down in the zone and a curveball that made it tough for Hillsboro to hit anything hard at the Beaver defense. Catcher Ryan Hill said the Spartans, anticipating outside offerings or change-ups, got jammed on Carter’s inside pitches.

“I’ve been working hard to be a starter next year,” said Carter. “Last year, I was mostly a relief guy, but I’m hoping to be a starter. That’s what I want. Being a starter means being more focused and not wasting pitches.”

Pitching on three days rest and coming off a tough weight room/yard work double duty earlier in the day, Carter proved why he should be evaluated for starting consideration. The strong right-hander — who struck out seven on Monday — found a groove halfway through the contest, at one point sitting down eight straight Spartans from the second to the fourth inning. Meanwhile, with Carter rolling, Josh Hill slapped a two-out single to left in the top of the fifth to score Cole Christophersen from second, 2-2.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton senior Cole Christophersen heads for home for the Beavers tying run in the fifth inning of their OIBA win over Hillsboro on Monday.

“He definitely has the potential to work his way up and be a starter,” said Ryan Hill of Carter. “I think he’s on the road there. But, regardless of whether he starts or comes out of the ‘pen, he’s going to help us a lot.”

Hillsboro mounted a small rally in the fifth when a Spartan reached on an error and moved to second on a wild pitch. However, on the next at-bat, Ryan Hill — a first-team, all-Metro backstop last year — hosed down the runner trying to steal third. Hillsboro followed the throw-out with a single, but Carter coaxed a fly out and struck out the subsequent batter to end the inning.

Beaverton’s been without the services of Cornwell — the reigning Metro player of the year — and Lafollette — a first-team all Metro pitcher — this summer who are playing club baseball.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beavertons Tovey Brown tries to avoid a Hillsboro tag after a basehit in the third inning of the Beavers 6-2 OIBA win on Monday.

However, that’s opened the door for players like Carter, Lava, Christophersen, Brown, Calvin Krech, and Kevin Watson to receive ample playing time and prove their abilities to head coach Derek Nekoba. Playing its sixth game in four days, the admittedly dragging Beavers mustered the energy required to close out the game in the seventh and ensured Beaverton wouldn’t have to play Wednesday in the OIBA’s single elimination bracket.

“We’ve kind of been overachieving,” said Carter. “We haven’t had all our guys, and we’ve had a lot of young guys pulled up from JV. I think we’re playing pretty well.”

Lava was particularly impressive in place of Cornwell at shortstop, handling tough grounders in the hole and making long, powerful throws to Josh Hill at first. The youngster played his part and looked like a seasoned veteran with the glove, gunning down three Spartans in the seventh who pulled the ball toward left. Brown reached base twice and helped set up Hill’s heroics in the seventh with a leadoff double down the first base line.

“They have a good attitude, and their working their butts off every day,” said Ryan Hill of the Beavers’ young players.”

“It’s fun out there,” added Josh Hill. “And, it’s a good experience for the younger guys because they don’t know what it’s like. A lot of them have come up and shown us what they can do.”

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