It’s an experiment that has true benefit and merit, but also one with a big hill to climb before permanent implementation throughout...
KEIZER — With nobody out and two runners on base — including the potential tying run at first — Hidden Valley coach Travis Osborne hoped some more late-inning playoff dramatics were in store for the Mustangs.
"The kind of team we've been in pressure situations, we definitely had our chance," he said.
But four days after the Mustangs scored four runs in the seventh to edge Henley, they went down silently.
Ontario pitcher Brady Baker struck out three straight batters to end the seventh-inning threat, clinching a 4-2 win for the top-ranked Tigers in the Class 4A state championship game Saturday at Volcanoes Stadium.
The loss ended a spectacular postseason run for the sixth-seeded and 15th-ranked Mustangs (17-7), who scored two runs in the third to cut a four-run deficit in half but could get no closer.
"It's hard to lose when you get that far, obviously — I'm not gonna lie," Osborne said. "But the bottom line is nobody expected us to be there. We just battled, and once we got in the playoffs it just seemed to come together. They had a lot of heart and they played with each other really, really well."
Ko Garrison and A.J. Munoz had back-to-back singles to lead off the seventh for the Mustangs, but the promising start went nowhere after No. 9 hitter Mike Hults failed to put down a sacrifice bunt on the next two pitches. Baker struck out Hults moments later, then did the same to Jaime Schmidt and Joe Wardle to clinch Summit's second state title and first since 1995.
Hidden Valley starter Gregg Hurd took the loss, his first of the season after 11 straight wins, after giving up four runs, all earned, on five hits in four innings of work. Tyler Gulbransen took over in the fifth and shut out the Tigers (21-7) on two hits over the last three innings.
Baker had four strikeouts in the last two innings after replacing starter Zayne Sather, who surrendered two runs on three hits in five innings.
Ryan Reever and Tony Machuca had two hits apiece for the Tigers, who scored two runs in the third on an RBI double by Baker and a sacrifice fly by Tanner Alexander to seize a 4-0 lead.
Hidden Valley got back in the game in the bottom of the inning when Hurd hit a two-run double, but the Mustangs managed only three hits the rest of the way.
"The momentum was in their favor (early on) and it could have got really ugly, honestly," Osborne said, "but the kids got back in it and battled."
Ontario 112 000 0 — 4 7 1
Hidden Valley 002 000 0 — 2 5 1
Sather, Baker (6) and Machuca; Hurd, Gulbransen (5) and Garrison. W — Sather. L — Hurd (11-1). 2B — O: Baker, Alexander. 3B — HV: Schmidt, Hurd.