The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

Huskies pull out baseball playoff win at La Grande, fall to Astoria at home


May 29, 2019

COLTON SMITH dives to third base on his way to scoring the Huskies' only run against Astoria in the second round of state playoffs.

Sweet Home ended its baseball season with a second-round 8-1 playoff loss to Astoria at home after beating La Gande 2-0 in the first round.

On the road at La Grande on May 22, Colton Smith went the distance, striking out seven batters while giving up just three hits and a walk.

"Colton, for us, was tremendous," said Coach John Best.

La Grande pitcher Parker Robinson, "holy smokes, he's one of the better pitchers I've seen at the high school level."

Robinson struck out 14 Huskies, Best said. The game was a "classic pitchers' duel."

Robinson gave up two walks, one hit and two earned runs.

Sweet Home had just one hit, and La Grande had three, but noen of the Tigers got past first base.

Neither team could get anything going until the seventh, when Sweet Home was finally able to get a couple of guys around the diamond.

Zach Luttmer was hit by a pitch in the top of the seventh to reach base.

"It was kind of a do-or-die situation," Luttmer said. "I had to do what I could for the team."

He said he tried not to think too much and relied on his training.

Reaching base, "I was ecstatic," he said. "I knew as soon as I was on base, I was going to score."

He stole second on a wild pitch. Smith struck out.

The Tigers intentionally walked Aiden Tyler to set up a double play, Best said.

"Best, before the inning told us something was going to happen," Travis Thorpe said. "Zach was going to get on base somehow. I knew we had to pick things up. They intentionally walked Aiden."

Tyler said he was "excited" going into the top of the seventh, despite not having a lot of productivity at the plate up to that point.

"I was 0-2 but hit the ball hard two times."

He got to the plate, and his coach and the umpire were telling him he was on first base, he said.

Then Thorpe doubled on a 1-1 count to score Luttmer, giving the Huskies their game-winning run and advancing Tyler to third.

"It was really exciting," Thorpe said. "It felt good."

La Grande intentionally walked Gavin Nichols, looking for a play at home, and then Tyler scored the second run on a wild pitch.

From third base, Tyler said, "it was a tough read."

Austin Olin was swinging, and the ball rolled off to the left, Tyler said. That's when he went for it, scoring the second run for the Huskies.

Smith went four up, three down in the bottom of the inning, giving up a single to the lead-off batter, to get the win.

"The kids did absolutely a awesome job," Best said. "Pitching-wise, that was the best game I've seen Colton throw. Good team, one of the better ones we've played all year."

Sweet Home 000 000 2 – 2 1 1

La Grande 000 000 0 – 0 3 1

The Huskies moved to the next round to face Astoria at home.

The 17th-ranked Fishermen had just beaten third-ranked North Marion in a first-round matchup.

They got started early against Sweet Home.

Astoria's lead-off batter grounded out, but the Fishermen loaded bases on two hits and an error and then scored when a batter was hit by pitch. Pitcher Nate Virtue struck out the next batter but gave up two singles, allowing three more runs in the first inning and giving the visitors a 4-0 lead.

Sweet Home had a glimmer of hope in the bottom of the fourth. Colton Smith doubled to reach base and, on two outs, stole third and then scored on an error by the catcher on a single by Thorpe.

In the top of the fifth, Astoria's Adam Feldman knocked a three-run homer over the left-field fence. Burke Matthews stole home, scoring one more for Astoria.

The Huskies felt ready for the game, Best said, but they didn't play well.

"I don't feel like we pitched very well," Best said.

Pitchers were missing spots and were up in the zone, and the Huskies collected just two hits.

Astoria hit the ball well, Best said.

"They hit the ball hard. We didn't have an answer.

"I think they're going to give Henley a run for their money."

It may have been a case of being caught unawares, Tyler said.

"I think we went in expecting a little less from them than La Grande," he said. "They hit the ball, and we didn't."

Tyler said he didn't think Astoria's pitcher was very good, but the Huskies couldn't hit him.

"They had a really good shortstop," Tyler said. "Every time we hit it to him, it was like a black hole."

"Astoria was on a roll after beating North Marion," Thorpe said. "I knew I couldn't overlook them. They came to play. We had mental errors, physical errors. They swung the bat. We didn't."

"I didn't think we came out ready to hit the ball," Luttmer said. "A lot of us were relieved we didn't have to play North Marion. We just kind of overlooked them."

The game ended the baseball season for the Huskies. Ranked 12th in the state after the end of the regular season, the Huskies were 17-10 overall and 13-5 in league.

"We always set our goals super high," Best said. "There's always some level of disappointment. When I look back, I thought the kids played very well."

They finished second in the Oregon West Conference by one game, Best said, and they were among the top eight teams in the state, "two games from our all-time goal."

The team did a lot of really good things this year, Best said, "a lot of things the kids should be proud of."

"I feel like it was a good season," Luttmer said. "We all would've liked to won that Astoria game, gone a little farther, see what we could've done."

He enjoyed making it to the quarterfinals when other teams and coaches were overlooking Sweet Home, Luttmer said, and he enjoyed his team becoming a family.

"I think the season went by really good," Thorpe said. The Huskies lost three tough games the first week of the season. That gave them an eye-opener, showed them what they needed to become.

The Huskies got on a roll and had a shot at the league title, he said. With the team learning from its mistakes, the junior expects "better things next year. I think we're going to do just fine next year."

"I was excited," Tyler said of the playoffs. "I'd never been in anything like that. Going that far was awesome. I want to do it again. We'll have to have some guys step it up."

ZACH ZANONA pitches during the final innings against Astoria.

He thinks the Huskies will be equally as good or better next year, he said.

At bat against Astoria, Smith hit a double with a run, and Thorpe singled. Astoria collected 15 hits.

On the mound, starting pitcher Virtue gave up a walk, nine hits and no earned runs while striking out three batters in four innings. In relief, Zach Zanona gave up six hits, four earned runs and no walks with three strikeouts in three innings.

Will Read threw a complete game for Astoria, giving up three walks, two hits and one earned run with one strikeout.

Virtue and Smith have been selected to play for the south in the upcoming annual 4A All-Stars game.

Astoria 400 040 0 – 8 15 2

Sweet Home 000 100 0 – 1 2 3


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