Glide survives rocky road.
MONROE - Glide head coach Al Skinner admitted his team has lacked an ace pitcher this season.
He has, however, found his team a horse. And Tuesday afternoon, they rode him all the way to the championship game.
Glide survived its own poor defensive effort early in the game, and a last-gasp, two-out rally in the seventh by Monroe, to defeat the Dragons 6-5 and advance to the OSAA Class 2A/1A baseball title game.
After giving up three runs on only three hits in the first two innings, Wildcat starter Dakota Barker settled down and allowed no hits and just one baserunner through the next four innings.
"He threw great today," Skinner said. "That was the most sink I've ever seen on his fastball. He's kind of been our go-to guy, and we really haven't had one. I've got seven other pitchers on this team who are pretty close to his ability ... but right now he's the most consistent."
Barker, a junior left-hander, pitched a complete-game five-hitter Friday in an 8-4 win against Knappa in the quarterfinals.
Against Monroe, he went into the seventh with a 6-3 lead but gave up an infield single to Adam Opoien to open the inning.
Barker retired Kurt Hartshorn swinging for his seventh strikeout of the game, and got Nick Payne to fly out to deep left field for out No. 2.
Monroe's Collin McClaughry then roped a double to the fence in left-center scoring Opoien, and Devin Simmons followed with a double just inside the right-field foul line that brought home McClaughry. That made it 6-5 with the tying run on second and the winning run at the plate in Chris Carter.
With that, Skinner ended Barker's day on the mound and brought in Cody Kinne, who struck out Carter swinging to end the game.
"I was pretty nervous," said Barker of watching Kinne get the last out. "I was trying to take my mind off it."
Glide (20-3), which won the Big Fir League, will meet Lakeview in the championship game Saturday at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer.
The Honkers defeated Umpqua Valley Christian 8-3 on Tuesday, preventing what could have been an all-Big Fir final.
The Wildcats will play in just their fourth title game in school history, and the first since losing 5-3 to North Valley in 1985.
"Honestly, at the beginning of the year I didn't know if we had the potential to do that because we lost a lot of strong players from last year," Glide second baseman Eric Harryman said. "But I don't know, we've just played really well as a team and we seem to get it done game after game."
"And," said Harryman, as he grabbed Barker, who was standing nearby, "we've got this man right here. We've got the lefty."
It almost wasn't enough.
The Dragons (25-5) jumped on top 2-0 in the first inning, taking advantage of a some timely hits and a couple of defensive miscues by the Wildcats.
Opoien started it with a one-out single that went off the glove of Harryman and into right field. Hartshorn followed with a high fly ball misplayed by the left fielder. The hit turned into a double for Hartshorn and put Opoien at third.
Barker then plunked Payne in the back, loading the bases for McClaughry, who hit a fly ball that was dropped by the right fielder, scoring Opoien and Hartshorn.
Glide tied the game 2-2 in the second inning on a two-run double by Brock Halter off Hartshorn, who started for the Dragons but was pulled after allowing four hits, two runs and two walks in the first two innings.
The Dragons got the lead right back in the bottom of the second on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Hartshorn that scored Andrew Murkin.
But the Wildcats were again able to answer, scoring a run in the third on a groundout by Shane Skinner that brought home Nick Bean to make it 3-3.
That's where the game stayed until Harryman hit a two-out single in the sixth inning that scored Travis Olson from second base to give the Wildcats a 4-3 lead.
The score was set up by an error on a pick-off throw to first that moved Olson into scoring position.
In the seventh, Glide added some insurance runs on a bases-loaded, two-run single by Shane Skinner that was set up by a pair of Monroe errors earlier in the inning.
Overall, the Dragons committed four errors.
"I thought they did a really good job defensively down the stretch," Monroe coach Bill Crowson said. "Of course, it catches up to you in the seventh inning of the semifinals."
Olson finished with a game-high three hits - two doubles and a single - to go with two RBIs and a single, while Shane Skinner led Glide with three RBIs.
"The kids on this team, they're just a different crew," Skinner said. "They're not the most talented crew I've had in the last 10 years, but I tell you what, they always find a way to win."
Glide relief pitcher Cody Kinne (center) gets congratulated by coach Al Skinner while his teammates celebrate the final out in the Wildcats' semifinal victory over Monroe, sending Glide to the Class 2A/1A championship game against Lakeview. Glide starting pitcher Dakota Barker survived a rough start against Monroe with four innings of no-hit baseball to help the Wildcats win. Wayne Eastburn / The Register-Guard Monroe's Collin McClaughry came to the plate with the bases loaded in the first inning, and he brought in two runs by reaching base on an error to give the Dragons the early lead. O S A A p l a y o f f s
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|Title Annotation:||Sports; Wildcats dig out of early hole, hang on late to beat Monroe|
|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||May 31, 2006|
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