Kennedy baseball rallies, falls in extra inning championship loss
The 2019 2A/1A Baseball State Championship game between Kennedy and Umpqua Valley Christian pit two of the best defensive teams in the state against each other at Volcano Stadium in Keizer on Friday.
Yet in a case of dramatic irony, it was the errors on both sides of the field that decided the fate of the Trojans and the Monarchs, as Kennedy rallied from a four-run deficit to send the game to extra innings, only to fall 10-5 in a wild nine-inning affair.
"We didn't start off like we had hoped," Kennedy head coach Kevin Moffatt said. "We know it can get sideways pretty quickly, but the guys battled and I'm pretty proud of them."
There were a pair of Kennedy miscues in the third inning that led to two runs scored, giving the Monarchs a 5-1 lead. There were two errors by the Monarchs with one out left in the seventh inning, helping the Trojans make an improbable comeback with their backs against the wall to tie the game at 5-5 and send it to extra innings. And there were two game-deciding errors in the ninth inning by the Trojans, extending the game to allow Umpqua Valley Christian to plate five runs and win their third state title in program history.
"Usually our defense is our moneymaker, and at times it was today, but we had some uncharactaristic plays at inopportune times," Moffatt said.
But the Kennedy coach gave credit to his team for not getting down and fighting through some tough innings to make the team's seventh-inning rally possible.
"The guys could have quit at any time," Moffatt said, pointing to the team's opening inning in which the team's defense was uncharactaristically against the Monarchs. "We walked the first two guys and gave up a 3-spot."
Kennedy took a run back in the bottom of the inning when Brady Traeger hit a sacrifice grounder to score Sam Grosjacques.
The Monarchs added two more runs in the third when it appeared that batter Aaron Buechley grounded into a double play, but for the inning-ending throw to first place was off the mark, allowing two runs to score instead.
The Trojans responded in the fifth with a two-out rally when Grosjacques walked, setting up an RBI triple-to left center field by Demetre Marseille, who was in turned driven in by Beyer's second RBI-single of the game.
After pitching the first five innings, Kleinschmit was relieved by Traeger, who kept Umpqua Valley Christian scoreless for the final two innings. But the Monarchs appeared to have the game in check.
With two outs on the board in the bottom of the seventh, the game looked as if it was over when Grosjacques hit a routine grounder to second base. But like Kennedy's throwing error earlier in the game, the toss to first base was off the mark, breathing new life into the Trojans.
Marseille followed, taking a two-strike count against Buechley the distance by fouling off nearly a half dozen pitches before hitting a double to right field that the Monarchs misplayed, allowing Grosjacques to score from first.
"(Marseille) swung the bat well today," Moffatt said. "He wasn't fooled, he was hitting fastball, curveball. That's how he is. He's not scared to be in those situations. He likes baseball, he probably likes baseball more than anyone else on the team."
Beyer then hit a pop fly to centerfield, but the Monarchs dropped the game-winning out, allowing Marseille to score and tie the game. Beyer attempted to get into scoring position in the chaos of the play, but was thrown out at second, and the two teams continued into extra innings.
After a relatively drama-free eighth inning, the Monarchs took advantage of two more Kennedy errors to win the game in the ninth. With one out on the board and runners on first and second, Umpqua Valley Christian loaded the bases on a fielding error. Batter Sam Guastafer followed with a fielder's choice to score the go-ahead run, but a fielding error led to another run, keeping the inning alive for the Monarchs to score three more times and put the game out of reach.
Camryn Biegel opened the bottom of the ninth by drawing a walk, but the next three Trojans went down in order to end the game.
The runner up finish was a continuation of the exemplary year for Mount Angel athletics. The football team kicked things off with a state championship in November — a first in school history for that program. The boys basketball team followed with its second straight fourth-place finish at the state tournament.
"Obviously there's some good athletes going through," Moffatt said. "The big piece is our youth programs. We have a lot of dedicated parents putting in a lot of time with our kids."
A number of athletes — Angel Dela Rosa, Rocco Carley, Beyer, Traeger, Kleinschmit, Isaiah Basargin, and Riley Cantu — were rostered on all three teams. Of those players, just Carley and Dela Rosa were making their final appearance in a Kennedy uniform on Friday.
"That's harder than losing the game by far, it's the last game for Rocco and Angel, and we don't get to spend more time with them," Moffatt said.
The Trojans made just their second state title appearance in program history, going a perfect 18-0 in league play to garner Player of the Year honors for Grosjacques and Coach of the Year for Moffatt. The team saw 10 players earn All-Conference recognition, including five on the First Team. But regardless of the finish, the wins, and the post-season accolades, the Kennedy head coach and athletic director was more satisfied with the character of the players he got to lead all season.
"This is just a great group of kids. Academically they're really good. They help other kids around the school. They're solid individuals," Moffatt said. "Whether or not you're good or bad, it makes the job enjoyable. When you get to here, obviously it's pretty cool. But even if we didn't have a very good team this year, it would still be pretty fun."
2019 Special District 2 Baseball All-Conference Awards
Player of the Year: Sam Grosjacques
Coach of the Year: Kevin Moffatt
Dylan Kleinschmit, So. — P
Angel Dela Rosa, Sr. — INF
Sam Grosjacques, Jr. — INF
Bruce Beyer, Jr. — OF
Brady Traeger, So. — OF
Rocco Carley, Sr. — 1B
Demetre Marseille, Jr. — INF
Cole Boen, So. — OF
Josh Valladares, Jr. — U
Cameron Biegel, So. — DH