KEIZER — The second time Umpqua Valley Christian got its hands on the hammer Friday afternoon, the Monarchs hit Kennedy so hard with it that there was no way they could kick it away.
One reprieve was all they allowed.
The little 1A school from Roseburg dropped five runs on the Trojans of Mt. Angel in the top of the ninth inning — two each on RBI hits from Isaiah Heard and Evan Buechley — to outlast them 10-5 and win the OSAA/OnPoint Community Credit Union 2A/1A baseball championship.
To get it, the Monarchs (27-3) had to recover from the shock of blowing a 5-3 lead with two out in the bottom of the seventh inning, nobody on base and a routine ground ball in the glove of the second baseman.
But the throw from Buechley got away from first baseman C.J. Gale — and the Trojans (who had once trailed 5-1) were still gasping.
Then the Monarchs inexplicably collapsed. A dying blooper to right field by
Demetre Marseille got underneath right fielder Jacob Mesa, and Kennedy’s Sam Grosjacques scored all the way from first. No prob — Kennedy’s Bruce Beyer lifted a routine fly ball to center field for another championship out.
But K.C. Pettibone dropped it, Marseille scored and the game was tied.
Strikingly enough, Monarch head coach Dave York had had the exact same thing happen to him before.
“It was right here in 2008,” he said, referring to the championship game against Portland Christian. He pointed to the second base gap. “It was on the exact same play in the exact same way. And we lost it in extra innings.
“(Today) I was thinking oh, no, not again.”
The event erased what should have been a championship game victory for Monarch senior pitcher Aaron Buechley, who was on the mound when his younger brother nearly threw the win away.
He was disappointed, he said, but never in doubt.
“We didn’t get that last out,” he said, “but I was saying let’s put it in the past.”
Evan Buechley sought his older brother out in the dugout.
“He said he was sorry for the error,” Aaron Buechley said. “I told him, ‘I love you still. Let’s go win the ball game.’”
York brought flamethrower Pettibone in to pitch, and the Trojans could barely touch him. He issued a harmless walk in the eighth, but had no trouble with Kennedy otherwise. York though the Good Ship Umpqua was back on even keel.
“After the inning it was important to get the kids refocused and doing what they had to do to win the game,” he said. “After we got them out in the eighth, I knew we were OK.”
Just to make sure, the Monarch player landed on Kennedy reliever Brady Traeger like a ton of bricks.
Traeger hit Jacob Luther with a pitch to lead off the inning, and a needless sacrifice bunt moved him up a base.
Then it was Kennedy’s turn to wobble. Traeger hit Gale, then Pettibone’s infield single loaded the bases.
A botched double play attempt by Kennedy scored the go-ahead run and left the bases still loaded. Which brought up designated hitter Heard.
Traeger tubed a fastball and Heard smashed it into the right center field gap for a double. That brought in two more runs and essentially finished the Trojans (28-3) off.
“I’d struggled all day,” Heard said. “But he put a fastball right in the middle of the plate and I got a lot of it. As soon as I saw that hit go into the game, I felt really great.”
An out later the Monarchs loaded the bases again. This time Evan Buechley didn’t miss: He ripped single to left for two more runs and the game was over.
Pettibone gave up one more walk, then retired the next three batters for the title.
The last out? A sinking fly ball to the new center fielder — Aaron Buechley.
“I made sure I had it,” the tall senior said, “then I put a death grip on it.”
And a life grip for his teammates.