The best North Douglas baseball season in the last quarter-century came to a difficult end on Tuesday night. In the state semifinals on Tuesday at Kennedy High School, it was the Trojans (28-2) squeaking out a 1-0 victory over the Warriors (22-7) to advance to the 1A/2A championship.
“You have to be proud of what we accomplished,” said North Douglas head coach Jeff Davis on his team that made the semifinals for the first time since 1995. “At the moment this hurts like the dickens, in particular for our seniors.”
In the semifinal, it was a game of defense. And more specifically, a game where both starting pitchers – North Douglas junior Colter Anderson and Kennedy’s Josh Valladares – setting the tone. While each team’s scorebook have a different number of hits recorded, what can be agreed on is that number was quite low.
North Douglas finished the game with two hits as a team and the Trojans had either one, according to the North Douglas scorebook, or it was a Warriors’ no-hitter, and an error on the play, according to the Kennedy scorebook.
The lone-hit – or error – occurred in the third inning on a short-hop hit by Cameron Biegel that got past the North Douglas shortstop. Biegel stole second on a passed ball and got to third off of a sacrifice bunt. On the bunt, no one from North Douglas covered first and the Trojans had runners on the corners, and then promptly second and third after a steal, with no outs.
A line drive to shortstop Brian Erickson on the next at-bat almost resulted a double play that would have got the lead runner out. Instead, Biegel was safe at third and scored on a grounder to Erickson on the next play.
“That’s it. To be honest, that’s kind of been our MO all year,” said Kennedy head coach Kevin Moffatt on his team being able to capitalize on miscues. “The first two rounds the other team kicked the ball a little bit, we didn’t hit too well. We knew that North Douglas would not kick the ball. I thought we hit a little better today but their kid, he threw a jam. He’s got good movement on his fastball, nice curveball. They’re just good.”
Moffatt continued, “Their shortstop is a dude, their centerfielder – best arm I’ve seen. They’ve got some guys on that team. And again, they’re really well coached. They make you game plan differently because [head coach] Jeff [Davis] is always doing the little things right.”
For the Warriors, the team had its best chance to score in the third inning. After Anderson reached base via a walk and stole second, Tyler Kallinger hit a ball deep to center field that was scooped up by a sprinting Bruce Beyer in for an out to end the inning.
“The ball Kallinger hits, in the gap, that gets down against another team,” said Davis. “In a game that you know is going to be tight, that’s huge. And that’s what we’ve heard, they’re going to pitch pretty well and defend well.”
“The play that the Beyer kid made, he’s kind of been that guy since his sophomore year, he’s been pretty darn good. And that was as good of one as he’s made,” said Moffatt. “And we’re not super-fast in the outfield but we seem to get pretty good jumps on it and move around a little bit. We’re pretty happy when they put it in play. As long as we don’t walk people we feel pretty comfortable that we’re going to have a chance to win.”
As the North Douglas defense continued to stand pat, the offense came up with hits from Austin Frieze and Koldan Frieze in the sixth and seventh inning respectively. While the team applied pressure, it was never enough to break through as Kennedy secured a shutout to advance to the championship.
“Man, you’ve really got to tip your hat to those guys. They are really well coached, really good defensive team. That was a hell of a game. That’s how a state semifinal should be,” said Moffatt. The Trojans will now face Umpqua Valley Christian, a team North Douglas beat twice this season, in Friday’s final.
Pained by the loss, North Douglas senior Cal Parks was able to put the team’s historic season in perspective.
“If somebody would have said we were going to the semis and had a chance to go to the state championship match at the beginning of the season, I probably would have chuckled at them and thought, not with this team. We’re a little young. But these guys are fighters,” he said. “What a run we’ve made just for the little ol’ town of Drain to have such a good season. It’s just been a fun season.”