Gaston senior Levi Watkins caps his career with selection to the Class 2A all-state team

The Gaston baseball team did not quite make the Class 2A/1A playoff field this spring.

Despite the lack of a deep playoff run by the Greyhounds, they still posted a solid season. The squad finished third in the Northwest League and lost 1-0 to Portland Christian in a league playoff game for the second and final spot in the state field, finishing the season at 14-12.

That lack of a postseason appearance did not prevent the state from taking notice of senior Levi Watkins, who capped his final season with first team all-state honors as a utility player. The pitcher/third baseman/shortstop also earned first team all-district honors.

“I was glad he got that. He deserved to get some recognition, finally,” Gaston coach Sean Casey said about the all-state recognition. “He spent four years pitching for us. Last year he had a really good year, and then this year a good year again.”

Watkins batted .302, producing 16 hits, 13 runs and 14 RBIs. In seven appearances on the pitcher’s mound, he threw 30 innings. He gave up just 21 hits and seven runs (only three earned), and he walked 26 and fanned 36. (Complete pitching statistics were not available.)

Kyle Casey also earned first team all-district honors. Casey, just a sophomore, batted a blistering .533, with 40 hits, 19 runs and 27 RBIs. He played a variety of positions — mostly shortstop and third base, said Sean Casey, his dad — and also pitched some, throwing 14 1/3 innings. He allowed 33 hits and 29 runs (16 earned), while walking 10 and striking out 18.

“He’s played a lot of ball a lot of different places,” Casey said. “It was kind of nice, because anywhere I needed to fill in, if I needed to move somebody, I didn’t have to worry.”

Sophomore Trevor Reynolds and junior Joey Stark earned second team all-league honors. Reynolds batted .200, producing nine hits, 11 runs scored and six RBIs. He also pitched 18 1/3 innings, giving up just 14 hits, six runs (four earned) and six walks while striking out 17.

“He’ll get to 100 pitches and he’ll want to keep going,” Casey said about Reynolds. “He just throws a lot of strikes, and he can throw a lot of innings. He doesn’t have necessarily as much speed as ... Levi or Kyle, but he was really effective still because he could throw a lot of innings. He’d pitch and they’d make contact, but we’d make plays behind him.”

Stark, the Greyhounds’ starting catcher, notched 17 hits, nine runs and seven RBIs, and posted a .395 batting average.

“Joey stepped in there and kind of took that over and did a good job there for us, and just hit really well,” Casey said.

Sophomore twin brothers Ryan Sweet and Alex Sweet were all-district honorable mention picks. Ryan Sweet, a center fielder, batted .381 with 24 hits, 22 runs and 18 RBIs. Alex Sweet typically played first base and hit .338 with 22 hits, 11 runs and 16 RBIs.

Said Casey about the Sweets: “I know they’ll be hungry to do better than that next year, so that should pay dividends.”

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