The Umpqua Valley Christian baseball team didn’t have much time to savor its 12-10 road victory over top-seeded Knappa on Tuesday in the semifinals of the OSAA Class 2A/1A playoffs.
Not with the championship game coming up early Friday afternoon.
The No. 4 Monarchs (26-3) take on No. 3 Kennedy of Mt. Angel (28-2) at 1:30 p.m. at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer. The 3A title contest between No. 7 Warrenton (19-6) and No. 4 La Pine (18-7) will follow at 5 p.m.
Umpqua Valley Christian, the Special District 4 champion, overcame a 9-0 deficit against two-time defending state champion Knappa, rallying behind a nine-run fifth inning. The Monarchs advanced despite making six errors.
“Obviously, the start of the game was rough for us,” UVC senior third baseman Kolby Mahoney said during a practice Wednesday at Bill Gray Stadium at Legion Field. “It was amazing, just the fact we stayed mentally tough the whole game. Even when we were down, we didn’t let it get to our heads.
“We came back and beat them. They’re a phenomenal team ... to be able to play with those guys was an honor, but it was really awesome to beat them on their field.”
The Monarchs earlier defeated No. 20 Culver 13-0 in the second round and knocked off No. 5 Reedsport 8-1 in the quarterfinals. They finished with 10 hits against Knappa.
“We had a mindset flip and didn’t want our season to end,” Mahoney said. “We got our bats going and they came through for us.”
Kennedy, the SD2 champ, shut out No. 7 North Douglas 1-0 in the semis Tuesday. The Trojans, who have won 15 straight, opened the playoffs with a 13-6 win over No. 19 St. Paul and eliminated No. 6 Grant Union 12-3 in the quarters.
The Trojans are averaging 10.2 runs and allowing 2.3 a game. UVC averages 10.6 and gives up 2.6, respectively.
“They’re great offensively and really good defensively,” UVC coach Dave York said of Kennedy. “From what I understand, they’ve set school records for batting average and fielding percentage.
“We’ve always said we have to pitch and defend and get timely hits. If we pitch way better than we did Tuesday and defend way better and get some hits, I think we’ll be OK.”
Umpqua Valley Christian is expected to open with a lineup of senior Jacob Luther at shortstop, Mahoney at third, junior CJ Gale at first base, junior KC Pettibone in center field or at pitcher, sophomore Sam Guastaferro at catcher, senior Aaron Buechley at pitcher or in center, senior Jacob Mesa in left or right field, sophomore Evan Buechley at second base and sophomore Devin McLaughlin or junior Spencer Adams in right or left. Junior Isaiah Heard will hit for McLaughlin or Adams.
Luther isn’t available to pitch Friday, so the Monarchs will choose between Buechley and Pettibone as the starter.
The Monarchs are appearing in their fifth title contest under York.
UVC, a 1A school, won championships in 2002 and 2009, and was the runner-up in 2008 and 2013. Kennedy’s lone title came in 2012.
“For us to be the smallest school in the 2A classification and being able to do what we’ve done, it’s been amazing,” York said. “I’m really thankful.”
Kennedy only managed one hit against North Douglas, scoring the lone run of the contest in the third inning. Josh Valladares pitched a two-hitter for the Trojans, striking out eight and walking three.
“So pumped (about playing at Volcanoes Stadium),” Mahoney said. “It’s an amazing field. It’s been 10 years since we’ve won a (state) championship and it would be awesome to take another one home.
“It’s going to be a defensive game. We have to make sure we make the plays we need to and the bats will come for us.”