Madras baseball overcomes deficit, advances to playoffs
Down 7-1 early in their home play-in game to Mazama, the Madras baseball team dug deep and fought hard for a 13-10 victory Thursday, May 17.
Madras (16-9 overall) will play at Astoria (15-8 overall) on Wedneday in a playoff game. The last time the baseball team made it to the playoffs was in 2013.
Tyler Lockey and Kanim Smith pitched for the White Buffalos against Mazama. Lockey recorded nine strikeouts in the first five innings and Smith closed out the last two innings with two strikeouts of his own.
The Buffs recorded a couple errors in the first inning and Mazama took advantage, scoring the first run of the game on a wild throw to third. Zach Gibson hit an RBI double to center field, helping Mazama score the second run of the inning.
In their half of the first, Cameron Rodriguez was walked. He later made it all the way to third on a badly thrown ball — an attempt to pick him off at first. Smith hit a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Rodriguez. But after one, Mazama had a 2-1 lead.
In the second inning, Mazama scored two runs on a Buffalo error and McCrea Hamilton drove in a run with a hard grounder past third. Bill Miller hit a shot to center field, which bounced off the glove of a diving Rodriguez, scoring two runs, and Cooper Hamilton hit the ball to shallow left field for an RBI. The Vikings had a massive 7-1 lead heading into the bottom of the second inning.
"When we were down, I just talked to them about how this is a seven-inning ball game," said coach Sam McCormick. "This is a short game, but has a lot of room to go our way. You are almost always guaranteed to lose if you give up. Keep trying to chip away."
In the second, Byron Patt hit a ground ball to short and beat out the throw for a base hit. With Liam White up to bat, Patt stole second and White hit a grounder up the middle, moving Patt to third. Jared Holliday stepped to the plate and hit a grounder to second, where the baseman couldn't get a handle on the ball, scoring Patt.
"Our mindset when we were down was, this might be our last game to play," said White. "The season was on the line and we needed to compete."
"We just got rid of the pressure that was in our heads," White said. "Go in there with the approach that we're confident, knowing what we could do, swinging at strikes and hammering the ball."
Lockey crushed a line drive two-RBI hit to left field and was hit home by a Smith ground ball hit up the middle. Mazama still had a 7-5 lead, after two innings.
In the top of the third inning, Lockey struck out all three batters, holding the Vikings scoreless.
Patt hit a line-drive double to left field and was driven home from a grounder up the middle by White.
Hamilton, of Mazama, hit a two-RBI triple to left field and scored on a passed ball in the top of the fourth inning.
To start the bottom of the fifth inning, Patt hit a line drive to left field for a double. White also hit a line-drive double, to center. Holliday hit a hard shot to the third baseman, who could not make a play on the ball, allowing a run to score for the Buffs.
"We should have started off better, had too many errors, but we overcame it and did our thing," said Patt. "The team fixed our approach once we were down and we were all lifting each other up, knowing this was our time."
The bases were loaded for both Kyle Brooks and Rodriguez, who were walked, scoring two Buffalo runs. Smith hit a line drive to left field for a three-RBI single. Patt, up for the second time that inning, delivered again with an RBI grounder to third base, beating the throw to first.
"We were waiting for the game to come to us, when we should have been attacking the game," said McCormick. "I am really proud of our hitters. Our scouting report said do not strike out and we didn't do that today. Our guys did what was expected of them, especially when it mattered, which was really cool to see."
The Buffalos scored seven runs in the fifth inning and held Mazama scoreless the rest of the game, giving the Buffalos a 13-10 victory.
Patt recorded four hits for the Buffs, White recorded three hits and Smith hit in five runs for Madras.
"Our pitchers stepped up and our defense just started making plays," McCormick said. "These guys have only played one play-in game before and there was a huge, loud crowd out there, against a good team, and I think the game was just a little too fast to start off with."
"I have been telling these guys all week to close your eyes at night and imagine what a dog pile feels like, because not a lot of teams get an opportunity to do that and fortunately, we did," he said.
"For next week, we need to play our game," McCormick said. "We need to make sure we are ready to go in those first three innings. Give our pitchers and hitters a chance to win us another game."
"I was just trying to do what I could to help us win," said Smith. "This felt good, first time going to the playoffs in like five years."
"We need to do all the little things right for next game," Smith said. "No errors, get our bunts down, just work on all the small things."
"This game felt great, but we need to get better for Wednesday, cut down our errors," said Patt.
The Buffs play at Astoria High School, in Astoria, on Wednesday, May 23, at 4 p.m. General admission is $8, or $5 for students.
Madras baseball added an extra game against No. 3 ranked La Pine (3A) May 15, before their postseason against Mazama on Thursday. The team lost 9-8 in a back-and-forth game filled with seven-run innings, homers and diving plays.
To make sure the baseball team was fresh for their home play-in game, they decided change pitchers frequently throughout the game. Kanim Smith started the game, Byron Patt pitched the middle innings and Tyler Lockey came into close. The three pitchers combined for 10 strikeouts through seven innings. Five of the 10 strikeouts came from Lockey in the sixth and seventh innings.
La Pine scored the first run of the game in the second inning. Adam Plant scored on a hard ground hit that Madras could not handle. The bases were loaded for Jake Farnsworth, who hit a two-RBI line drive to left field. The Hawks took a 3-0 lead early.
Austin McKittrick hit a sacrifice fly for the Hawks in the top of the fourth inning, but the Buffalos responded.
Lockey stepped up to bat with Patt and Brandin Desjardins on base, hitting a two-RBI triple to the right field fence. Cameron Rodriguez hit a ground ball to the shortstop, who threw the ball to home plate trying to throw out an advancing Lockey. The La Pine catcher caught it, tagged out Lockey and dropped the ball, making Lockey safe and putting another run on the board.
Smith hit a line drive RBI double to right field and Kyle Brooks crushed the ball for an RBI double to left field. Jared Holliday did his job hitting an RBI sacrifice fly to left field for the Buffs and Patt hit a hard ground ball up the middle to score the seventh run of the inning. Madras took a 7-4 lead at the end of the third inning.
La Pine scored three runs of their own in the top of fourth inning, tying the game 7-7. First, the Hawks scored two runs on a White Buffalo error and then McKittrick hit an RBI grounder past second.
Smith smashed a home run over the center field fence in the bottom of the fourth inning to take the lead back 8-7.
The Hawks scored one run off another Buffalo error and Farnsworth had an RBI base hit to shallow left field. La Pine took a 9-7 lead at the top of the fifth inning and held on to it for the victory.
Smith went 2-for-3 with a home run and a double, and Patt recorded two hits and an RBI for the Buffs. Brooks had one hit for an RBI double and Holliday recorded an RBI. Lockey, Fine and Rodriguez each recorded a hit for the Buffalos.