Lebanon — Sprague and West Albany met Sunday morning at Lebanon High School in an elimination game that would determine which of the two one loss teams would advance to the afternoon’s championship series with Sherwood. These two are certainly no strangers to one another, having played each other four times in the regular season and again at the district tournament last weekend. So when these two were destined to meet again at the state tournament, the foes might be familiar but the circumstances were much higher.
Both teams had different paths to Sunday’s elimination game, but they had both fallen to the same opponent that ultimately sent them there. Sprague opened Friday with a 16-10 shootout win over Glencoe, while West Albany cruised past Tualatin 12-2. West Albany rocked McMinnville Friday afternoon 7-1, while Sprague was knocked into the elimination bracket by Sherwood 13-3. West Albany ended up facing the same fate Saturday, as the Bulldogs were knocked into the elimination bracket 9-3 by the Bowmen.
As for the Olys, they fought off Clackamas 5-3 and turned around to beat McMinnville 17-4, setting up Sunday morning’s elimination showdown against West Albany. The Bulldogs came out guns blazing in the first inning, smacking back to back doubles to get on the board 1-0, but Sprague would set them down after that trailing 1-0 after an inning. The Olys got a leadoff double and a subsequent steal of third base with no outs in the second, but the runner was ultimately left stranded after three groundball outs ended the half inning.
Still locked in a 1-0 dogfight, West Albany put runners on second and third base with one out in the fifth, and brought home the man from third base on a suicide squeeze up the first base line, giving them an insurance run and a 2-0 advantage. The Bulldogs would tack on one more runs down the stretch, and West Albany shutout Sprague 3-0, advancing to Sunday’s 1:30 PM championship set with Sherwood and ending the Olys state run at third place.
Although the year ended short of a crack for the state championship, Sprague Head Coach Jason Muth talked about the journey to a third place finish at state, “These boys have been playing with me for the last five years, and this is our last hurrah before high school baseball. We went out and played a lot of baseball, played in lots of tournaments around the state and had a really good squad. When you get to the end not everyone can be the winner, and finishing third place in the entire state of Oregon for JBO Federal is a good finish.”