Huskies fall to Ontario to end baseball season

A rough sixth inning did in the Huskies in their state 4A playoff game Friday against Ontario, which got out of town with a 15-5 victory.

“Obviously, this was a rough game for us,” Coach Dan Tow said. “We competed hard early, but the sixth inning by them was the story.”

The Huskies scratched out a run in the first inning, but Ontario took a 3-1 lead at the top of the third and then broke loose with a chain of 12 runs in the sixth. The Huskies scored again in the bottom of six and then three more times in the seventh.

“The frustrating thing is that we had chances to make plays, and we just didn’t,” Tow said. “One or two plays can really change the outcome of an inning or a game, and that was definitely the case today.

“Having said that, Ontario deserves a good deal of credit for putting pressure on us and using their speed to their advantage. When they had base runners, they executed the bunt and run game very well.”

Sweet Home players said the blame was theirs.

“We didn’t really show up to play like we should,” senior third baseman Brad Valloni said.

Senior outfielder Leif Erickson said the Huskies didn’t respond when they needed to at the game’s crucial point.

“We had a moment in the game where whoever got the better half of it was going to start taking the game,” Erickson said. “We had one or two errors that kind of brought the younger kids down.”

In the last inning, Erickson said, they started raising their heads and rallied.

Gavin Kauffman gave a quality effort on the mound, Tow said, and the team made some big plays early.

“Unfortunately though, we didn’t generate much offense, didn’t have many leadoff guys get on base, and we couldn’t put together a lot of hits until after the outcome had kind of already been decided,” Tow said. “We had a pretty rough day defensively. In both of the innings they scored runs, we had errors, and we committed four in the sixth when they scored the majority of their runs.”

Kauffman started for Sweet Home on the mound and collected the loss. T.J. Sipe pitched two innings in relief. Riley Horn was winning pitcher.

At bat, J.P. Williams, Kauffman and Leif Erickson each had two hits. Brock Cota, Jamie Steinbacher, Levi Marchbanks and Tyler Holley each contributed one hit.

Leading Ontario, leftfielder Jake Turner had a single and a double with two RBI,s and catcher Vic Machuca had two hits and two RBIs.

“I’m proud of our kids for winning some big games to make the playoffs,” Tow said. “We had a lot of exciting games this year, and we played some of our best ball late in the year.

“This was a tough end, but those things happen sometimes, and it doesn’t change the fact that we’ve got a bunch of great kids.”

“We played really good this year,” Valloni said. “This is the best team I’ve played on.”

Valloni said this was his best season so far after three years on varsity. He hit the ball well and knocked out six homeruns earning him all-league honors, second team, for the first time.

Erickson enjoyed this season too.

“I loved it. We had a team this year that was willing to make a goal and do everything to get to it.

“We had a goal earlier this season to get into the playoffs. When it came to it, everybody started focusing, and we all got our jobs done.”

This year, the team’s hitting improved across the board, Erickson said. During the past few years, the Huskies had a few guys who could hit the ball well but it didn’t extend down the bench.

“This year, we had an entire lineup of guys who could hit the ball really well,” he said.

Erickson and Valloni are optimistic about next year’s team. The Huskies are loaded with juniors this year.

“If anything they need to learn how, if you make an error, keep your head raised, forgetting about if and focusing on the next play,” Erickson said.

After graduation, Erickson said, he plans to work for a welding company in Brownsville. He will attend school in Oklahoma to learn welding and continue bull riding in rodeos. He doesn’t plan to continue playing baseball.

Valloni and couple of his teammates are planning to try out for the Albany Rockets, an American Legion team, he said. He hasn’t decided his plans for college yet.

Also departing the Huskies is senior Tyler White.

SH 100 001 3 €“ 5 10 7

Ontario 003 00(12) 0 €“ 15 8 2

Sweet Home 7, Cottage Grove 6

During a weeklong hiatus between regular season and state playoffs, the Huskies played two non-league games, including a 7-6 win at Cottage Grove on May 20.

“This was a great all-around team win,” Tow said. “We threw four different guys and played a lot of people. I thought Levi and T.J. both pitched very well, and we got big hits from Leif Erickson, Steven Bidwell and a big hit early from Zach Miller.

“This was a good tune-up game for the playoffs.”

The Huskies trailed early, 4-2 after two innings. Cottage Grove extended its lead to 5-2 in the fourth. Sweet Home scored one run in the fifth and four runs in the sixth while Cottage Grove scored one more in the sixth to get ahead 7-6.

“With the game at 7-6 in the bottom of six, the bases loaded and only one out, we turned a huge double play to end the threat of them taking the lead,” Tow said.

Isaiah Blake was starting pitcher for Sweet Home. Marchbanks pitched the third through fifth innings. Cody Daniels pitched in the sixth, and Sipe pitched the seventh earning the save.

Oosthoft was losing pitcher. Marchbanks received credit as winning pitcher.

At bat, Bidwell went 2-2 with an RBI and two runs. Erickson went 2-4 with two RBI. Miller went 1-1 with a double and RBI. Holly and Williams each had a hit.

SH 110 014 0 €“ 7 7 2

CG 220 101 0 €“ 6 6 2

Santiam Christian 8, Sweet Home 7

Santiam Christian defeated the Huskies 8-7 in the first of the tune-up games at home on May 18.

Sweet Home held a 2-0 lead at the end of the second inning, but Santiam scored two in the top of three and another in four to take a 3-2 lead. Santiam extended the lead another run, 4-2, but the Huskies scored three in the bottom of the sixth to take a 5-4 lead. Santiam outscored the Huskies in the seventh 4-2 to build its final lead.

“This was really a great back-and-forth game,” Tow said. “Santiam Christian has a very good club, and we had several chances to beat them. We had a 5-4 lead in the seventh and couldn’t hold it, and then we almost came back and won anyway.

“We really hit the ball well, and they did too. Other than losing the game, it was a good game for us to play, and we did some good things.”

Kauffman was starting pitcher. Williams was losing pitcher. Sipe also pitched two innings. Wonsley was starting pitcher for Santiam.

At bat, Cota, Marchbanks and Williams each had three hits. Erickson had two hits.

SC 002 101 4 €“ 8 11 3

SH 020 003 2 €“ 7 14 4

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