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Lee split time between first base and pitcher in helping lead the Tri-Valley Conference champions to their first state baseball title

PAMPLIN MEDIA: JIM BESEDA - Gladstone's Derek Lee was named the Class 4A baseball co-Player of the Year after leading the Gladiators to their first state championship.Gladstone's Derek Lee did a little bit of everything for the Gladiators' baseball team this spring.

The left-handed senior first baseman was a force at the plate, on the mound, and in the field, and he was named the OSAA Class 4A baseball co-Player of the Year after leading the Gladiators to their state championship.

Lee shared the honor with La Grande senior G.T. Blackburn, who was recognized as the co-Player of the Year for the second season in a row, while Gladstone's Casey Webster was named 4A Coach of the Year.

"It's just such an honor," Lee said. "A lot of the credit goes to my coaches and teammates for pushing me and helping me get better over the years.

"It's just an amazing honor and I really appreciate that other coaches thought that of me. It's just indescribable. I would never have really thought that something like this would happen, but … it's pretty great."

After Gladstone through the Tri-Valley Conference and won the league title for the second time in four seasons, the Gladiators (22-8) reeled off consecutive playoffs wins over Brookings-Harbor, North Bend, and Junction City, and then downed defending state champion La Grande 3-2 in the championship final.

Lee played a key role through it all.

At the plate, he had a .394 batting average (37 for 94) with 11 doubles, a triple, 32 RBIs, and 24 runs scored.

On the mound, he went 9-2 with a 2.54 ERA in 12 appearances and worked a total of 60 2/3 innings, allowing 42 runs (22 earned) on 59 hits with 21 walks and 49 strikeouts.

In the field, he made most of the plays that came his way, committing only six errors in a team-high 145 chances for a .959 fielding percentage.

Lee drew the start in the championship final against La Grande and surrendered two runs on two hits and three walks with three strikeouts before turning the game over to the bullpen.

Tied at 2-2 in the seventh, Gladstone pushed home the go-ahead run when Damian Alvarado scored from second on Matthew Lehrbach's two-out single to right.

Has winning a state championship sunk in yet?

"Honestly, not quite," Lee said. "Some of us have had some moments where we're like, 'Wow, did we really just win state?' It almost seems unreal or it feels like it's all a dream, because it's something that we've been working so hard for, for so long, and now that it finally happened, it's pretty great."

Lee also was named to the 4A All-State first team in football as a middle linebacker, and was honored as one of four Scholar-Athletes of the Year by the Oregon Chapter of the National Football Foundation, but plans to pursue baseball in college.

His plan is to dual enroll next fall at Oregon State University in Corvallis and Linn-Benton Community College in Albany and play baseball at Linn-Benton while majoring in kinesiology. His goal is to work as a physical therapist after his playing days are over.

Alvarado, the Gladiators' senior center fielder, also was named to the 4A baseball All-State first team. Hitting in the leadoff spot, he batted .293 (27 for 92) with four doubles, three triples, 14 RBIs, and 37 runs scored. He also drew 23 walks -- or one every 5.2 plate appearances -- and was 22 for 23 in stolen base attempts.

Gladstone senior Ben McCoy landed on the All-State second team as a pitcher after going 8-3 with a 1.49 ERA in 13 games. In 66 innings pitched, he allowed 25 runs (14 earned) on 60 hits with 16 walks and a team-high 54 strikeouts.

Lehrbach, the Gladiators' junior left fielder, earned All-State honorable mention along with junior infielders Austin Conner and Matthew Kuhn.

CLASS 4A BASEBALL

Co-Players of the Year: Derek Lee, Sr., Gladstone; G.T. Blackman, Sr., La Grande

Coach of the Year: Casey Webster, Gladstone

FIRST TEAM

Pitchers

Heith Rasica, Soph. Henley

G.T. Blackman, Sr. La Grande

Griffin Henry, Jr. North Marion

Catchers

Blake Loney, Jr. Henley

Grant Henry, Jr. North Marion

First baseman

August Baker, Sr. North Bend

Infielders

Trent Keeler, Sr. Junction City

Andy Schmitz, Sr. North Marion

Trey Hageman, Sr. Astoria

Hayden Handehey, Jr. Banks

Outfielders

Damian Alvarado, Sr. Gladstone

Adam Hawker, Sr. Ontario

Jake Overstreet, Sr. Henley

Jerad Toman, Sr. Scappoose

Utility player

Derek Lee, Sr. Gladstone

SECOND TEAM: Pitchers -- Cody Dubray, Sr., La Grande; Jacob Bodmeir, Jr., Newport; Ben McCoy; Sr., Gladstone. Catchers -- Heath Pickhardt, Sr., Crook County; Logan Paustian, Soph, La Grande. First baseman -- Kolton Fisher, Sr., Hidden Valley. Infielders -- Jayden Frank, Jr., North Bend; J.C. Gross, Sr., Scappoose; Brennan Watts, Sr., Phoenix; Gunnar Partain, Sr., Banks. Outfielders -- Porter Agnew, Sr., Valley Catholic; Jake Simmons, Jr., North Bend; Seth Forsythe, Jr., Ontario; Nic Iliyn, Jr., North Marion. Utility player -- Zach Morgan, Sr., Sisters.

THIRD TEAM: Pitchers -- Mane Freeman, Jr., North Bend; Wyatt Riedel, Sr., Estacada; Cade Meisner, Jr., Sutherlin. Catchers -- Taylor Gross, Sr., South Umpqua; Vincent DiMatteo, Sr., Hidden Valley. First baseman -- Keegan Holly, Sr., Sweet Home. Infielders -- John Prescott, Jr., Junction City; Colton Seal, Jr., Ontario; Isaac Chamberlain, Soph., La Grane; Kyle Hadwick, Sr., Henley. Outfielders -- Cameron Rodriquez, Sr., Madras; John Tacchini, Soph., Henley; Trenton Luckini, Sr., Newport; Dakot Bunn, Jr., Banks. Utility player -- McCrea Hamilton, Sr., Mazama.

HONORABLE MENTION: Pitchers -- Dalton Renne, Sr., Banks; Roman Worthey, Jr., Brookings-Harbor; Colton Smith, Jr., Sweet Home; Hayden Rasica, Jr., Henley; Sam McCauley, Soph., Baker; Lucas Moe, Soph., North Bend; Logan Travis, Soph., Scappoose. Catchers -- Daniel Pruitt, Soph., Valley Catholic; Jaace Cross, Sr., Cottage Grove. First basemen -- Nolan Jackson, Sr., Philomath; Josiah Hirsch, Jr., Astoria. Infielders -- Tyler Lockey, Sr., Madras; Austin Morss, Sr., Sisters; Jake Davidson, Sr., Cascade; Austin Conner, Jr., Gladstone; Mathew Kuhn Jr., Gladstone; Kye Blaser, Sr., Newport; Justin Frederick, Soph., La Grande; Bryce Lemon, Sr., North Marion; Peyton Westerholm, Jr. Seaside. Outfielders -- Jonathan Warner, Sr., South Umpqua; Chris Luz, Sr., Sisters; Jon Kleespies, Jr., Brookings-Harbor; Mason Stella, Jr., Phoenix; Mathew Lehrbach, Jr., Gladstone; Kyle McAllister, Jr., Cascade; Chico Guzman, Sr., Junction City; Kadin Baker, Jr., Douglas. Utility players -- Jayce Leonard, Sr., La Grande; Noah Burke, Jr., Douglas; Kenan Conner, Sr., Philomath; Payton Hope, Sr., Sutherlin.

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