The Madras White Buffalo baseball team ended its last home game of the season on a great note, beating the Molalla Indians 18-10 May 7.
Madras and Molalla both beat each other once this season, so even though both teams couldn't make the postseason this season, they battled hard for every run.
Neither team was able to score in the first inning of the game, but Ethan Graeme hit a hard line drive to left field for a double, getting things started for the Buffs in the second..
Graeme stole third and Kody Zemke was up to the plate with runners in scoring position. Zemke hit a hard ground ball to the shortstop, who decided to get the easy out at first, allowing Graeme to run home for a score.
In the bottom of the second inning, the White Buffalos exploded for nine runs. The Molalla pitcher was having trouble on the mound, walking several Madras batters, but the ones who were not walked took advantage at the plate.
Zemke hit a hard line drive to left field for an RBI and a few plays later, Liam White hit a ground ball up the middle for a two-RBI single.
The Indians switched pitchers in the middle of the inning, but Israel Penaloza blasted a ball to deep left field for a three-RBI double. A combination of walks, and errors by Molalla, with some great at-bats from the Buffs, gave Madras a large 10-0 lead.
In the top of the fourth inning, Damian Pingo hit a deep shot to center field for a triple, starting things strong for Molalla. Pingo was hit home by a sacrifice fly and Molalla scored its first run of the game.
Madras needed to keep the Indians scoreless in the top of the fifth inning and score one run in the bottom of the fifth inning if they wanted to end the game early.
The Buffalos struggled at the mound, walking three batters in a row with the bases loaded. Molalla scored three runs on walks alone and scored three more runs on two Madras errors, cutting the Madras lead down to 10-7.
Molalla kept things rolling with two RBI singles at the plate and a score on a wild pitch, tying the game at 10-10, heading into the bottom of the fifth inning.
Zemke hit an RBI single to left field, giving Madras the lead back, but that was all they could muster in the inning.
The Buffalos were holding on to a small lead heading into the bottom of the sixth inning. Carson King started things off with a hard hit double to center field. Trent Mitchell laid down a picture perfect bunt on the third baseline, advancing King and making it safely to first base.
Penaloza hit a hard ground ball up the middle, scoring King and advancing Mitchell to second base. Zemke stepped into the batter's box focused on keeping things rolling at the plate.
Zemke destroyed the ball over the left field fence with ease. The ball skyrocketed over the fence higher than the foul ball pole itself for a three-run homer and gave Madras a 15-10 lead.
"You see two runners on base and the first thing that pops into my head is, go yard," Zemke said. "I hit it hard, but I thought it might go foul for a second."
Jordan Mitchell kept things going with a hard line drive double to center field. Liam White hit a high fly ball to shallow center and Molalla couldn't make the catch. Mitchell scored on the Molalla mistake.
Jacob Hulsey stepped to the plate and hit a hard ground ball toward the third baseman, who made an error and White scored another run for Madras. Trent Mitchell blasted a line drive to right field for an RBI, but was thrown out at second base.
Madras scored seven runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, securing a 18-10 victory in their last home game of the season.
Zemke led the way for Madras, going 3-for-5 with an incredible six RBIs. Penaloza also had a strong game at the plate, ending the game 3-for-3 with four RBIs.
"I thought the game went real well," Zemke said. "Towards the fifth inning, we fell off a bit and they put a nine spot on us. I was getting mad at our guys, but we didn't get down on ourselves and we fought back, came out hard and won the game."
"I feel like next season our team chemistry will go up for sure," he said. "This was the first year playing with these new guys and the second year is always much better. If we played our own team at the beginning of the year, we would kick our own butts. We have grown a lot."
Liam White went 1-for-3 with two RBIs, while Trent Mitchell was able to go 2-for-3 with an RBI.
"This was a fun baseball game, well ... kind of," said head coach Sam McCormick. "We got punched in the face and then decided to compete. It would have been real easy to just fold up, but we didn't. We reestablished control of the game like we did in the second inning. It was cool to see these kids do because in the future it will be a huge confidence boost for them."
"You look around our infield and it is all freshmen and sophomores," he said. "Most of these guys don't have the experience of being in a tight varsity game and coming back. This team has the makings of a really, really good ball club. They just need to believe and today was a big step."
"The unfortunate part about baseball is you are based on your record," said McCormick. "We all started this thing in November and they have all improved so much since then. A kid that comes to mind is Carter Dunten. The kid is 5 feet tall and just loves the game of baseball. We weren't sure where he would fit in, but all of a sudden he is our leadoff hitter, starting shortstop, getting it done all year. There are several other kids just like that."
"Unfortunately, we dropped a couple games midway through the season or this group would be a playoff team," he said.
The Buffs had a team full of good, young baseball players, who finished a season full of great varsity experience. "I think it came together for us," said freshman Ethan Graeme. "The younger group wasn't very talkative and wasn't really friends, but we are all really good friends now. We had a few errors in the fifth inning that cost us, but we knew we could come back and beat this team."
The team will lean on Liam White and Zemke, during their senior years next season, while still relying on the young members of the team to reach their potential.
"By the end of the game, we decided to come together and just play ball," sophomore Jacob Hulsey said. "No one really knew who they were playing with at the beginning of the season and next year, but we will try to use this success to help us next season."
"The eighth graders coming up to high school next year is a very talented group," he said. "The younger group has already played with those kids, so we know them pretty well. Liam (White), Kody (Zemke) and Trent (Mitchell) don't know them yet, but that is what summer baseball is for. I am really excited to see what we can do as a program next season."
Most recently, the Buffs traveled to Estacada, losing to the Rangers 12-1 in five innings.
Madras was able to take a 1-0 lead after the top of the first inning, but the Rangers scored three runs in the first three innings.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Rangers scored nine runs with a combination of one RBI and Madras errors. The Buffalos had nine errors on the day and one hit.
Hulsey went 1-for-2 at the plate for the Buffs.
Madras' season came to an end finishing the season 7-16 overall, and 5-10 in league play.
Head Madras baseball coach Sam McCormick has decided to step down as head coach after six seasons with the White Buffalos. McCormick started as a head coach for Madras in 2014.
"I really just wished I would have served players better when I started," McCormick said. "That is a regret that I have. I would not have traded this for anything. You learn a lot about yourself, how to treat people and what is important about coaching athletics. Baseball is the condiment; character, life and stuff in the classroom in the real important stuff."
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