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Madison falls in baseball playoffs

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - Madison High's Max Tuttle bunts for a hit in Thursday's state playoff game against visiting Sandy.Though it was a serene evening at the ballpark for a first-round Class 5A baseball playoff game, it simply wasn’t the Madison Senators' day.

Ninth-ranked Sandy prevailed 12-0 and advanced to a third-round showdown versus Marist.

After the dust had settled, Madison huddled in left-center field for 20 minutes, players and coaches hugging each other one by one, expressing their emotions and reflecting on a successful season for the Portland Interscholastic League 5A champions.

“It’s been a great year. I’m very proud of these kids,” Madison coach Eric Bennett said.

In a game pegged as a pitchers' duel going in, only one dueler lived up to billing. Carson Dwyre drilled pitches through the strike zone with curvaceous velocity all night as he delivered a 13-strikeout, complete-game performance on the road.

“On the mound, you hate to say it’s average, but he’s done that all year. He’s been nails for us,” Sandy coach Rick Martin said.

Senators ace Robby Heiberg didn’t play to the level he’s accustomed, giving up six runs in six innings.

“He threw a lot of pitches and was struggling with control of his hard-breaking pitches,” Bennett said.

Dwyre punctuated his stellar pitching performance with a couple RBI base hits.

“Offensively, he’s had the ability to do that all year. He’s swinging the bat very, very well now,” Martin said.

Martin said going up against Heiberg was not an easy task.

“We hit the baseball against a very good pitcher," Martin said. "Heiberg is one of the best pitchers in the state, and for us to compete with him the way he’s been stuffing it, it’s good for us.”

The Pioneers manufactured only two hits in the first three innings. Then they erupted for four runs in the fourth inning. The first run scored on an opposite-field knock by infielder Bryce Tilton. With the bases loaded, a beaned batter forced in another run. Then, Kyle Stipe produced two more runs, cracking the bat for a base hit, although ending the inning after getting tagged out at second base.

“It was timely hitting. We had some quality at-bats and competed every time we were at the plate,” Martin said.

In the sixth, Dwyre and outfielder Rhett Schileroot’s RBIs strengthened Sandy’s grip on a second-round berth, as the Pioneers increased their lead to 6-0.

That forced Bennett to bench his ace.

“The first toughest part was taking Rob off the hill in the sixth," Bennett said. "He was in tears out there. I told him, ‘We’re gonna go with the changing of the guard now.’ ”

Sandy essentially put the game to bed when Tilton blasted a three-run home run in the top of the seventh. It boosted the score to 12-0.

Bennett said he believes his seniors' competitive spirit will take them far in life.

“These seniors have worked so hard to put Madison back on the map," Bennett said. "If you compete the way they have in the business world or whatever, they’re going to be very successful people.”

Bennett pointed out that the Senators achieved two of their three goals this season: to win the PIL 5A title and finish the regular season ranked in the top eight in state.

Martin said he would need more information before he lays out Sandy’s strategy Friday against Marist, which upset No. 1 seed Bend.

“I’m going to get on the phone and talk to a few coaches and get a little information on them. We’re going in blind. We haven’t played them, and we haven’t seen them,” he said. “We’re going to let the guys enjoy this a little bit for the bus ride and then get focused up and play a baseball game tomorrow.”