Beaverton baseball bashes Roseburg in Class 6A second round
A buzz can only last for so long before some sort of sustenance is required.
For three innings, Roseburg played the role of the lovable road underdog, rattling the dugout fence with furious exertion, screaming at Beaverton starting pitcher Trace Hokkanen, trying to break the favored Beavers' focus in the Class 6A second round playoff square-off.
Through five-and-a-half innings, Beaverton led 2-1 in a contest that felt the longer it stayed a one-run ball game, the better Roseburg's chances were of pulling off the upset.
The No. 4 Beavers, however, kept the Indians' at an arm's length. Hokkanen tip-toed out trouble twice on the mound in the third and fourth innings. And when the bottom of fifth rolled around Beaverton broke out its smash-and-dash style of play and subsequently gorged on Roseburg to extend its season at least one more game.
Buoyed by a five-run boon in the fifth off Roseburg starter Cody Johnson, Beaverton brought its own brand of authentic enthusiasm and buried the Indians to take the 9-3 victory on May 24 at Beaverton High School.
The Indians' team vigor, while commendable, wasn't sustainable for seven innings because of Beaverton's ability to keep them at bay and off the scoreboard. And once the Beavers broke out the bats and started stinging the baseball consistently, the game's liveliness veered back toward the Beaverton dugout.
"A huge thing for us is energy, energy, energy," Beaverton senior shortstop Karac Leyva said. "When we play with energy and have fun, that's when we're at our best. When we're loud (in the dugout), that's when the bats start going and we start getting runs. All it takes is one good hit to get us going."
No. 4 Beaverton will return to the 6A quarterfinals for the first time since 2015. They'll face No. 25 Lake Oswego who's gone on the road twice and came away with two upset victories including May 24's coup of No. 12 Lincoln in eight innings. The word of Lincoln getting eliminated was a sigh of relief for Hokkanen, who said the Cardinals' pitching staff is one of the strongest in the state and would have presented a formidable problem for Beaverton. The Lakers are no slouch, assuredly, Hokkanen stated. But Beaverton beat Lake Oswego in non-league play and possesses the past confidence to go into Friday with big-time dreams of reaching the semifinals next week. The first pitch is slated for 5 p.m. on Friday at BHS.
"Our baseball is the best in the state when we're 'on' and we have good energy," Leyva. "(Lake Oswego) is going to come in confident, ready to get us. We just have to keep the energy going. We just have to stay focused and keep having fun. We can't overlook anyone because any team can show up and have a great day. We just have to play our game. If we do that, good things are gonna happen for us."
"(Lake Oswego) is just like us," Hokkanen added. "They're a younger team, but they once start a rally they somehow keep it up and keep going. It'll be a battle."
In the decisive fifth inning, the upset-minded Indians imploded under a rash of errors and mishaps that were caused in large part because of the Beavers bashing away at Roseburg's pitches like a stuffed pinata.
Beaverton senior second baseman Wyatt Christophersen hit a chopper up the middle that was bobbled and botched by the Indian second baseman, which was more than enough of a mix up to let the speedy Kevin Watson Jr. score from second and extend Beaverton's lead to 3-1. Christophersen was ran down in the subsequent pickle after trying to take an extra base, but the all-important insurance run was on the board.
It wouldn't be the last score of the stanza.
Hokkanen tomahawked a double to left to give himself and his team a 4-1 lead. Manny Castineira tacked on a RBI double that scored Callan McRae, who reached on a fielder's choice and skirted to second on a wild pitch.
"It looked like (Roseburg) started to crumble," Hokkanen said. "It looked they just got down and we fed off of that. We kept going and kept the pressure on them. We tried to attack the ball, connect hits together, try to keep base runners on the paths and keep the hits going."
And, Beaverton senior third baseman Joe Hollowell added even more misery to Johnson's spiraling stanza with a RBI double that swirled into a triple on account of another Indian error in the outfield, 6-1. Hollowell's hit chased Johnson from the game, but Leyva kept the two-out train rolling with a RBI single to right facing Colin Warmouth. Three of Beaverton's five runs in the fifth came with two outs.
All nine of Beaverton's starters bagged a base hit. In total, the Beavers finished 14 knocks. Leyva led Beaverton with three hits including the game-tying single in the bottom of the first. Watson Jr. reached base three times as well. Better yet, Beaverton's base knocks came in bunches. It was a contagious coupling of doubles, extra bases and aggression on all fronts that turned a close contest into rout rather quickly.
"We had to step on their throats," Leyva. "That's what our coach (Jamie Langton) preaches. No lead is really safe, especially in high school baseball. We know we have to stay on it. We can't get lackadaisical because that's when errors happen and the other team takes the momentum. I think we did a good job of keeping the momentum today."
Hokkanen pitched five innings and got the win while Castineira threw the two innings and struck out four.