State champion Crusaders, Beaverton's Oleson lead all-Metro picks
One of the first things that came to Colin Griffin's mind in the aftermath of his Jesuit baseball team's marathon Class 6A state championship win over Central Catholic was the conference for which his club conquered for the first time in ages.
Without the Metro League and the competitive field Jesuit took on during the regular season, Griffin said, Jesuit wouldn't be chasing Kevin Blair around Salem-Keizer Volcanoe Stadium, hoping to wrangle the game-winning hero in the bottom of the 13th inning for a dogpile celebration. It was a reflective, laudable claim of a league that made Jesuit earn its Metro crown and even more so its second title in four years.
Southridge nearly knocked off the champs in the second round of the 6A playoffs, taking a one-run lead into the bottom of the sixth. The Hawks were a strike away from getting out of the sixth with the lead and another strike away in the seventh from taking Jesuit to extras before falling 7-6. And Beaverton, who early in the season boasted about winning Metro even after getting swept by Jesuit during the league play, battled with the Crusaders before losing a 5-1 quarterfinal decision. Westview took a game off of Jesuit (as did newcomer Mountainside) and nearly won the archrivals' series.
Jesuit took Metro by three games, but the scattering of players and quality teams came from all corners of the conference in its first year without the Hillsboro schools. The long list of all-leaguers reflects such levelness. The Crusaders led all Metro schools with five first-teamers including Pitcher of the Year Mick Abel, who also won 6A Pitcher of the Year. Likewise, Griffin was named Metro Coach of the Year and 6A Coach of the Year.
But Jesuit didn't hog all the postseason hardware. Beaverton finished with four first-teamers, while Westview and Southridge each had three with Mountainside and Aloha both bagging two. Beaverton junior John Oleson won Metro Player of the Year honors at first base. Oleson was the Beavers' biggest threat in the lineup who could also come in and pitch in closing situations or long relief. Never was his two-way impact more felt than when the junior drove in six of Beaverton's seven runs while throwing more than three innings of scoreless relief to help the Beavers beat Westview 7-3 en route to a series win.
Oleson was joined by Beaverton senior Kellen O'Connor who was first-team all-Metro as a pitcher and an outfielder. O'Connor threw a no-hitter for the Beavers against Mountainside and a number of complete games including 1-0 a gem over North Medford in the first round of the 6A playoffs. The southpaw was a second-team all-state selection. Beaverton senior designated hitter Sam Wagner-Forster was also first-team all-Metro. Oleson was first-team all-state and O'Connor was second-team all-state.
Abel took his game to another level this season. Already blessed with velocity in the mid-'90s and an array of secondary pitches, Abel morphed into a big game ace who could be counted on in the postseason. Against Central, he gobbled up eight innings and allowed just one run in a normally tension-filled state title bout setting. Abel threw a complete game against Beaverton as well in the 6A quarters.
The Oregon State commit had plenty of help in senior catcher Joe Angeli, infielder Kevin Blair, outfielder Kellar McCarthy and utility man Sean Murphy, all of whom were first-team all-Metro. Though the voting results were never made public, Angeli was surely in the conversation for conference POY honors. Teams that tried to run on the Crusader backstop were quickly gunned down on the base paths. Foes that threw to Angeli in clutch situations at the plate often paid the price. He was also reliable behind the backstop, handling a Crusader staff that was deep and multifaceted. Angeli was also named second team all-state.
Murphy and Blair enjoyed huge breakthrough seasons, mashing at the plate and providing sound defense around the infield. Blair drove in both of Jesuit's runs in the 6A state title game and was second-team all-state. Murphy was a left-handed hitting force with a sky-high on-base percentage and earned first-team all-state honors as a utility player.
Westview's sophomore first-team all-Metro trio of infielder Mason Guerra, pitcher Ben Munson and outfielder Caden Rickman helped take the defending state champs back to the postseason and will be the nucleus of the next Wildcat contender both in Metro and 6A. Rickman was second-team all-state and Guerra was honorable mention all-state.
Southridge junior second baseman Michael Ball and senior pitcher Cam Carlson both went yard against Jesuit in the 6A second round. Carlson's moonshot out of Sprunk Stadium tied the game early on and Ball's three-run shot to right gave Southridge its only lead of the contest. Jesuit couldn't get Ball out that day. Carlson was Southridge's ace and a workhorse on the mound. Ball was Southridge's dynamo leadoff hitter who again earned first-team all-Metro honors. Ball, Carlson and the home run threatening first baseman Zach Hald each were named first-team all-Metro. Hald was honorable mention all-state.
Aloha junior outfielder Kieran McCalpin and senior catcher Travis Helm represented the Warriors on the all-Metro first team. Mountainside junior outfielder Kevin Anderson and junior infielder Yule Schrock were also first-team all-Metro.
Abel (designated hitter), junior designated hitter James Porter, senior shortstop Will Spitznagel and junior Ethan Wilson (pitcher and infielder) made the all-Metro second team. Carlson (infielder) junior outfielder Darik Salinas and senior pitcher Trevor Barth were all-second team selects for Southridge. Senior outfielders Ben Poole and Evan Williamson, Westview sophomore pitcher Braeden Munger and junior utility player Dominic Barela were all second-team all-Metro picks. Beaverton sophomore pitcher Brady Baltus and junior Phoenix Forester were also all-Metro second team as was Aloha junior pitcher Nathan Acuavera and Sunset senior outfielder Jay Friend.
Munger (outfielder), Barela (pitcher), Carson Carraher (infield), Ryan Toyama (infield) Aloha sophomores Brandon Cabrera (outfielder) and Caleb Wilson (infielder), Beaverton sophomore Trent Walker (infielder/pitcher), Jesuit junior outfielder Campbell Brandt and senior pitcher John Trausch, Mountainside sophomore pitcher Michael Steinberg, Southridge senior catcher and junior outfielder Josh Calo were all honorable mention all-Metro.