WOODLAND — Woodland and R.A. Long entered Wednesday’s doubleheader with their playoff fates on the line. Either team could clinch the final Greater St. Helens 2A League playoff berth and eliminate the other with a sweep.
And even though both games were played without a drop of rain, those playoff implications were ... postponed. The Beavers and Lumberjacks split. Woodland won the first game 7-3, R.A. Long won second game 6-1, and the final district berth depends on whether Woodland wins its season finale at league champion Mark Morris today.
For the Beavers (7-11, 4-7 in league), the taste of the playoffs is tangible.
“It would turn the program around, because we haven’t done too hot in the past couple years,” said junior catcher Bryce McQuivey. “If we got that playoff spot, it would be huge.”
The Jacks (6-11, 5-7) do not hold the keys to their own destiny. Whether they’ll be present to watch it unfold at Mark Morris today is unknown, although they can stomach rooting for their rival in this instance.
“I’d like to go watch it,” said RAL sophomore Tanner Ruffe, “but tomorrow we’re just kind of hoping for the best for the Mark Morris guys.”
n Woodland 7, R.A. Long 3
The difference in Game 1 was defense. The Beavers had vacuum attachments to their gloves, while the Jacks acted like the ball could bite.
RAL committed four errors, including a couple dropped fly balls, that led to three unearned runs.
“We were terrible,” Castro said. “I don’t know that I’ve seen that.”
Meanwhile, the Woodland defense routinely bailed out starting pitcher Tanner Huddleston. Huddleston struggled with control, walking five and hitting six batters, but the Beavers turned three double plays, including one that ended the game.
“I think it defined the game,” McQuivey said. “We had two or three double plays that were outstanding. If we didn’t have those, it could have been flip-flopped. We could have had three runs and they could have had seven.”
But it was McQuivey who made the biggest defensive play of all. Huddleston had loaded the bases on three walks to start the top of the fifth, and RAL scored a run off a double play to cut the lead to 5-3. The Beaver pitcher then loaded the bases again with a walk and a hit batter.
Huddleston’s next pitch escaped McQuivey’s glove, and RAL’s Trey Solon took off for home from third. But McQuivey corralled the ball, and lunged to apply the tag for the final out of the inning.
“He’s our leader,” said Woodland coach Owen Frasier. “He made that same play last week in a game.”
Instead of cutting the Woodland lead to 5-4 with the chance to tie it in the fifth, the Jacks’ momentum had been blunted.
“I can’t fault Trey Solon,” Castro said. “He’s busting butt, he’s hustling down the line. He had a good jump on the ball, we just happened to be unsuccessful.”
n R.A. Long 6, Woodland 1
Ruffe should have had a shutout in Game 2. He’d kept the Beavers off balance all game despite surrendering seven hits, and didn’t walk a batter until the seventh inning.
That walk, paired with an infield single two at-bats prior, put two on with two outs. The next batter hit a grounder to shortstop Brady Hulings, but Hulings muffed the ball to load the bases. The following batter hit it to the same exact spot, but Solon couldn’t handle Hulings’ feed at second, and a run scored.
Then for the third straight time, a grounder was hit directly to short. This time Solon and Hulings aced the 6-4 exchange to end the game.
“I really feel bad about it, because he deserved a complete-game shutout,” Castro said.
RAL broke a scoreless tie in the third when Rauson Fine scored on an error and Alex Pickett hit a two-run homer to left. Pickett’s home run was initially called a ground-rule double — the field in left is short and transparent, putting an umpire’s depth perception to the test — but Castro appealed.
The infield umpire asked Woodland left fielder Troy Flanagan (pictured) what he saw. Flanagan said it was a homer.
“Hat’s off to that kid, and hat’s off to Woodland to be able to say, ‘Yup, it was out,’” Castro said. “On that play, the left fielder called a home run.”
“That was the play of the day for me, out of all of them — that we have a kid who has that much character and integrity to do the right thing,” added Frasier.
Read more: http://tdn.com/sports/high-school/split-with-beavers-gives-lumberjacks-hope/article_9b720d80-94d8-11e1-b847-0019bb2963f4.html#ixzz1tmPXbV8T