Banks Braves end Husky playoff hopes

Wayne Spinney

Editor’s Note: The Banks Braves took a 4-3 win over Coach Dan Tow’s Huskies Monday evening at Banks. Banks went on to play at Newport on Wednesday.

For The New Era

The Sweet Home varsity baseball team, paced by the solid efforts of Junior pitcher Brandon Martin, senior all-league infielder Tim Matuszak and the timely hitting of juniors Lance Carter and Aaron Forquer, swept two games from the Cascade Cougars last week on the way to clinching an OSAA Playoff berth this week.

Sweet Home 10 Cascade 0

?We really hit the ball up and down the line-up today,? said Head Coach Dan Tow of his team?s first victory over the Cougars. ?Travis Smith started things rolling in the fourth with a home run and both Carter and Forquer had three hits each.?

After a single run in the first, the Husky bats thumped four different Cougar pitchers for two runs in each of the middle innings and closed out the game with a three run burst in the sixth.

The Huskies made only one error in the field and Martin twirled a two-hitter at the over-manned team from Turner. A dozen of the Cougar outs came after the visitors went fishing for the first pitch Martin offered, only to bounce or pop into an out. He was so dominating that he threw only 58 pitches for the afternoon. An amazing 72 percent of those pitches were for strikes.

?I felt confident and strong and I was able to spot the ball well,? said an elated Martin after the game. ?I know that I have both a good fastball and good control but I had them off balance with a change-up that I?m just learning to throw from deep in my hand. It?s the same motion as my fastball but it gets there a little slower.?

After the game was over, the Huskies learned that Stayton had wrapped up second place by defeating Molalla by a run, at the same time Martin was baffling the Cougars, which set up a league playoff day here in Sweet Home last Friday afternoon. The Cougars from Cascade returned to match-up against the fourth place Indians from Molalla with the winning team having the dubious honor of facing Sweet Home?s all-league pitcher in the second half of the twin bill. The Cougars proved their resilience and went on to win game one to gain a week ending rematch against the Huskies.

Sweet Home 9 Cascade 2

As has happened so many times this season, the Huskies took advantage of first inning base runners and jumped to a one run lead over the visitors. Cascade responded by finally reaching Martin for single runs in both the second and third innings.

With the game knotted at two apiece, Martin settled things in the fifth inning as he hit a towering two-run blast that left no question in anyone?s mind how talented this three sport star truly is.

?Martin again threw well today. He had a huge strike-out of their number one hitter in the second inning to snuff a Cascade rally with the bases loaded,? said Tow. ?Then he broke it wide open in the fifth with that enormous home run.?

Martin finished the game with two home runs and five RBI?s. Matuszak, the senior sparkplug short stop who had challenged his teammates earlier in the season to make the most of this year, was three for three including a double and two singles as he knocked in one run and scored another one himself.

The Huskies were stellar in the field making several key defensive plays. In the fifth inning, Cascade got their lead-off hitter on base who was promptly

picked off first by all-league catcher Travis Smith.

?Defensively we played very well without committing an error and obviously we had some big hits,? said Tow of his winning pass to the OSAA playoffs.

The Huskies traveled north to Banks on Monday in order to open the first round of the state 3A match-ups. The Cowapa League?s second place Braves were led into the playoffs by a solid core of eight seniors. Having played a couple of common opponents (losing to North Marion 9-8 and beating Molalla 3-1) is the closest Sweet Home has ever come to actually meeting the Braves on a ball field.

?Since I?ve been here as a coach and teacher we?ve never played Banks in a baseball game,? said Tow of his little known opponents. ?I?ve heard they play solid baseball in the field this year and have four kids that can really hit the ball well.

Coach Tow will call on senior pitcher Cody Miller to start on the hill for the Huskies, who will continue to look for opportunities on the base paths with all-league centerfielder Dajon DeMille leading the way.

If the Huskies can get four or five solid innings from Miller and DeMille has an opportunity to run; the heart of the Husky batting order should be able to provide the punch for some runs.

A win will take the Huskies to Newport on Wednesday for a late afternoon, second round game against the seventh ranked Cubs.