WILSONVILLE — Not enough clutch hits and too many errors. Lebanon High was just a few more plays from continuing its run through the OSAA 5A baseball playoffs. After a 6-2 loss at Wilsonville in a state quarterfinal Friday evening, the Warriors could only wonder, ‘What if?’
“We had opportunities but we didn’t get through in the big moments,” said Lebanon’s Kevin Crowell, whose team had numerous clutch efforts in two playoff wins in the previous week.
“I think we were just expecting that they would happen again. We just didn’t have that mindset of, you’ve got to earn it.”
Thirteenth-seeded Lebanon (16-13) had a runner at third base in each of the first three innings but scored in just one of those frames. The Warriors loaded the bases in the sixth and came away with nothing.
Anthony Medina came through with a two-out, two run single to right in the second that gave Lebanon a 2-0 lead. Medina and teammate Clyde Rood each reached base three times.
Warriors starting pitcher Cody Johnson sent the fifth-seeded Wildcats (23-6) down 1-2-3 in the second and Lebanon came back in its next offensive at bat and put the pressure on again.
The Warriors had runners at second and third with one out after Leaf Cripe’s sacrifice bunt.But a pop out and groundout ended the threat.
“We really had them where we wanted them,” Lebanon coach Jeff Stolsig said. “We had them on the ropes a couple of those times with baserunners in scoring position and we didn’t have quality at bats.”
Wilsonville scored one in the bottom of the third with the second of four Lebanon errors.
With two outs in the fourth, the Wildcats had runners reach safely on a throwing error and a hit batter before Kristjen Mertes pounded a ball deep to right-center field that scored two and put the home team ahead for good.
Stolsig said Wilsonville starter Gage Gloster got “tougher,” started throwing more strikes and appeared to gain more confidence after the Warriors faltered on offense early in the game. Gloster worked into the sixth inning, as did Johnson, who allowed six hits and a walk with four strikeouts.
“Cody gave us everything we wanted,” said Crowell, who took the mound Wednesday in a 7-1 road win at La Salle. “We needed to pick him up on defense, we needed to pick him up on offense.”
Wilsonville added a run in the fifth to make it 4-2. Lebanon rallied with two outs in the fifth after the first two batters were retired. Rood walked, Crowell singled to left and Medina was hit by a pitch to load the bases as the first batter against reliever Alex Coleman. But Adam Rappe struck out to end the inning.
Wilsonville tacked on two runs in the bottom half and the Warriors could do nothing with Jakeb Cripe’s one-out single in the seventh. Lebanon finished fifth in the Mid-Willamette Conference regular-season standings but wasn’t that far from playing in next week’s state semifinals.
Crowell,a junior who had two hits, said the postseason is something to build off, and the preparation for next spring began as soon as Friday’s game ended.
“We’ve had that in us the entire season,” Crowell said. “We underperformed the entire season. We shouldn’t have been the 13 seed at all. It showed a couple night ago. We could have been a top-five (team) no doubt.”
Wilsonville’s Adam Stevens had two hits and three RBIs.