St. Paul Baseball Continues Historic Season

By Jeremy McDonald

ST. PAUL, Ore.–  Clay Smith came into a crucial juncture of the game between St. Paul and Knappa.

It was a 1-0 ballgame in the top half of the seventh inning, two outs in the game.  The Loggers have pressured the Buckaroos throughout the game, only to see Starting Pitcher Warren Rose and St. Paul shutdown threats in the 2A/1A State Playoff Quarterfinals.

The Bucks knew what was at stake, there was no hangover from their first-ever program home playoff win from earlier this week as they faced another historic first:  State Semi-Finals.  For a 1A program, deep in depth, this moment, this game was big.

“We all did our job.  I think we had only one error, which is great and we got to the plate, got our hits when we needed it and we just locked down,” Rose said.  “I was not nervous at all.  I don’t think anyone was nervous.  We just had faith in each other to get the job done.  I knew Clay could do his stuff and I knew I did my job, just trusting each other.”

They were calm, cool and collected as a unit.  Overcoming moments of pressure set by an aggressive Knappa team that has been in these games plenty of times and looking for just another win at the ballpark.  But it never came by what of the hometown Buckaroos.

The lone run for St. Paul came in the fourth inning.  Piecing together hits.  Tyler Crawford had a lead-off double, Sullivan Grott reached on error.  Nolan McKinley scored Crawford a single and a Brett Knutson single had loaded up the bases with one out before the Loggers turned a double-play to end the threat.  The lone serious threat that either team had in the game Friday afternoon.

“That felt so good,” Crawford said of the hit and the inning.  “We knew that it was going to be a grind coming into it and we knew that it was going to be a close game, so we just had to fight all the way through.  That inning came in huge for us and I feel so good right now..  We knew they would come hard, we watched a lot of film in practice and we knew what they were going to do and we executed really well.”

St. Paul’s and Knappa’s defenses kept each other in check as the Bucks edged the Loggers 1-0 for their first-ever appearance in the State Semi-Finals (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

St. Paul maxed out Rose’s pitch count, which carried him to just an out shy of a complete game as the senior finished with 12-strikeouts.  There was no down in switching out the senior with the sophomore in Smith as it took Smith four pitches to close out the save opportunity to punch their tickets to the 2A/1A State Semi-Finals for the first time ever.

“I just knew I had to go in there and throw strikes.  Whether I got him on a strikeout or my team backed me up behind me, I knew as long as I threw strikes we’d get out of it.  All I was thinking was, ‘throw strikes and we’ll be able to get out of this’,” said Smith.  “That’s the big thing, not letting the seniors down.  It might be some of theirs last time playing baseball if we lose that.  I knew there was pressure, but I knew I had a great group behind me and was in a great spot to finish.”

For the seniors like Rose and Crawford.  To be a part of this historic team this year, leaving their mark as they have, it’s an amazing accomplishment as they turn their focus to another tough challenge in Kennedy on Tuesday.

“I’m so happy.  I’m so happy, it felt so good.  I’m so proud of Nolan in making that catch and Clay coming in pitching, finishing it.  I knew that was so big for us,” Crawford said.

“It fills me with joy.  I can’t believe we’re here and I hope we can get farther.  It’s fun,” adds Rose.  “We just have to practice hard and do what we do best and get the bats going.  That’s all I think we got to do.”

First pitch against the Trojans will be at 4:30pm on May 30 in Mount Angel.

Photos By Jeremy McDonald


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s