Coming back from a nine-run deficit against top-seeded Knappa seemed like an impossible task for No. 4 Umpqua Valley Christian on Tuesday.
But it happened.
The Monarchs scored three times in the top of the fourth inning, then erupted for nine more in the fifth to take the lead and never relinquished it en route to a 12-10 victory over the Loggers in a semifinal game of the OSAA Class 2A/1A baseball playoffs in Knappa.
Umpqua Valley Christian (26-3) will face No. 3 Kennedy (28-2) on Friday for the state championship at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer. Game time is 1:30 p.m.
Kennedy shut out No. 7 North Douglas, 1-0, in the other semifinal.
“Unbelievable,” UVC coach Dave York said, summing up his immediate reaction to handing two-time defending state champion Knappa (24-2) its first loss to an Oregon team in a couple of seasons. “Just unreal. I’ve coached for a long time, and in that type of game have never had a comeback like that.
“Our kids stayed mentally tough, and showed a lot of character.”
The Loggers had some misfortune hit in the first inning when ace pitcher Eli Takalo suffered an injury to his throwing elbow. He remained in the game, but was done pitching for the day.
“I know that took the wind out of their sails,” York said. “He’s a fantastic pitcher and that put them behind the eight-ball.”
The two clubs combined for 25 hits, with Knappa finishing with 15 and UVC 10.
Aaron Buechley led the Monarchs, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and five RBIs. Isaiah Heard was 3-for-4 with two runs and Jacob Luther went 2-for-5 with three RBIs.
“Aaron had a huge day offensively, he was the catalyst for us,” York said. “Jacob, Isaiah had nice days. We got some key walks (seven in all) ... the bottom of the order did a nice job.”
Logan Bartlett was 2-for-5 with a home run, four RBIs and two runs for the Loggers. Tristin Wallace went 3-for-4 with two runs, and Takalo, Ryson Patterson and Ryker Coffey all had two hits.
Luther got the decision in relief of KC Pettibone, going four innings. Buechley pitched the last 1 2/3 innings to get the save.
UVC will be appearing in its first title game since 2013, when it lost 2-0 to Grant Union. The Monarchs won championships under York in 2002 and 2009.
UVC 000 390 0 — 12 10 6
Knappa 135 100 0 — 10 15 1
Pettibone, Luther (2), A. Buechley (6) and Guastaferro; Takalo, Flues (1), Wallace (4), Goodman (4) and Patterson. WP — Luther. LP — Goodman. Sv — A. Buechley. 2B — A. Buechley 2 (UVC), E. Buechley (UVC), Patterson (K), Wallace (K), Goodman (K). HR — Bartlett (K).