Madras baseball overpowered on the road by Banks' dual threat
The Madras baseball season has ended after the No. 1 team in the state backed up their ranking.
Madras fell 5-0 to No. 1 Banks on Wednesday, May 25, in the first round of the OSAA 4A Baseball State Championship tournament. The Braves were led by senior Charlie White, who hit two home runs and pitched a complete game shutout to send the Buffs home scoreless.
Ayden Holcomb took to the mound again after starting the Buffs' play-in game against Elmira/Triangle Lake on Saturday, May 21. While he was replaced by junior Dru Boyle after two innings against the Falcons, Holcomb went the distance on Wednesday against Banks. Over six innings, Holcomb allowed five runs on nine hits — including three total home runs from the Braves. The junior had three strikeouts to go along with two walks and one hit batter.
While those Madras pitching numbers may not jump off the page, Banks averages about eight runs scored per game. In that context, Holcomb did an admirable job limiting the Braves' offensive firepower on Wednesday. Helping that cause was the fact that the Buffs' defense behind him was perfect, committing no errors in the loss.
Unfortunately, Holcomb's counterpart on the Banks side had an even stronger performance on the mound.
Charlie White got out of an early jam after Madras junior Cael White led off the game with a single and freshman Jackson Hertel reached by error. Despite putting a runner into scoring position right from the get-go, the Buffs were unable to bring the run around to score as the 3-4-5 hitters were all put down in consecutive at-bats.
Then in the bottom of the first, Charlie White hit a two-run shot over the outfield fence to open the scoring. The Braves tacked on runs in the second and third innings thanks to a solo home run from Justin Walters and an RBI single from Logan Kind.
Between those innings, Madras put the last of its baserunners aboard as Cael White and Hertel hit back-to-back singles to open the top of the third — but White was thrown out advancing to second, stemming a potential rally. The Banks pitcher proceeded to sit down 14 of the next 15 Madras batters, with junior Conner Flu only reaching base after being hit by an errant pitch. Charlie White's second home run, a solo shot, came during this stretch of dominance on the mound.
In the end, it was a performance that supported Banks' No. 1 ranking. The Braves showed off lights-out pitching, solid defense, and the ability to hit for both power and contact at the plate. Taken in whole, it is a potent combination that should take them deep into the playoffs. Other serious contenders for the 4A state championship include the other top-four seeds in the bracket: Hidden Valley, North Marion and La Grande. Along with Banks, this foursome won its first-round games by a combined score of 27-0 on Wednesday.
As for Madras, the Buffs' season ends as an overall success. The team posted a record of 15-11 overall and took third place in the Tri-Valley Conference, going 9-6 in league play.
The team bids farewell to eight seniors, including Ethan Graeme, TJ Stout, Carter Dunten, Reece White, Jason Allen, Mason Strong, Carson King and Tommy Walker. However, with juniors Dru Boyle, Conner Flu, Ayden Holcomb and Cael White returning alongside sophomores Noah Vibbert, Tyler Clarkson and James Lange, as well as freshman Jackson Hertel, the Buffs will be bringing back a strong and experienced core when they hit the diamond again next spring.
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