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Thurston (5A), Scappoose (4A), Banks (3A), Kennedy (2A/1A) join West Linn (6A) as Oregon baseball champions — vote for top star

Champions are crowned on the final day of the Oregon high school baseball season

By René Ferrán | Photo by Leon Neuschwander 

EUGENE — Freshman first baseman Grady Saunders hit an inside-the-park home run to right-center field to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning Saturday, lifting Thurston to a 2-1 victory over West Albany in the OSAA Class 5A baseball state championship game at PK Park. 

The second-seeded Colts (28-3) hadn’t reached the championship game since 2012 and won only one previous title in 2009. But after escaping a 5-4 contest against No. 15 Hood River Valley in the opening round of the playoffs, they knocked off 2022 finalist Lebanon and NWOC champion Wilsonville to reach the final. 

They grabbed an early lead on back-to-back doubles by Adam Elliott and Maddox Molony to start the game, but West Albany’s Drew Rice shut down their high-powered offense the rest of the day until the eighth.

The Bulldogs (23-7), whose only previous appearance in a state final was in 2004, scratched out the tying run in the fourth on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice by Kane Damon.

Sophomore Connor Molony went the distance for Thurston, working around four walks and four hits while striking out three — including Sawyer Kasten looking following Damon’s run-scoring groundout. 

Molony got Camden Cyrus to line into an inning-ending double play with runners on second and third in the third inning, then escaped a two-on, two-out jam in the top of the seventh by getting Rice to fly out to left.

Rice allowed eight hits and walked two, striking out five, escaping trouble in the second and fourth innings.

3A: Banks 3, Cascade Christian 0

Wyatt Hesselman tossed a three-hit shutout, striking out nine, and Banks (27-3) scored twice in the first inning to take control against top-seeded Cascade Christian (26-5) and win the second state title in program history.

Banks won its first championship in 2019, when it earned titles in football, boys basketball and baseball in the same school year. Its win Saturday denied the Challengers of accomplishing the same feat.

Hesselman shut down an offense that averaged more than nine runs per game entering the final at PK Park. Banks finished the season allowing just 50 runs in 30 games.


4A: Scappoose 12, Pendleton 2

Top-seeded Scappoose (27-2) completed a successful return to the 4A ranks by rallying from a 2-0 deficit against Pendleton (22-9), scoring seven runs without recording an out in the bottom of the sixth inning to close out the victory at Volcanoes Stadium.

Max Nowlin went 3 for 4 with three RBIs, including the game-ending single that scored Grayson Grover with the final run that clinched Scappoose’s fifth title and first since 2015.

Scappoose trailed 2-1 and had two outs with nobody on in the fifth before the next six batters reached base, with Grover’s two-run single on a full count putting it ahead. Nowlin hit a two-run single to push the lead to 5-2. 

Grover finished with three RBIs and scored three times, and Quinton Olson went 3 for 4 with two RBIs.

2A/1A: Kennedy 10, Blanchet Catholic 0

Kennedy made it back-to-back titles in its third consecutive championship game appearance, with the top-seeded Trojans (31-0) becoming the fifth team to complete an undefeated season with an OSAA state title.

Ethan Kleinschmit, who closed out their 11-1 victory over Umpqua Valley Christian last season, went the distance Saturday against Blanchet Catholic (28-3), allowing four hits and walking two while striking out nine. Matt Hopkins had three hits, and Brian Beyer and Owen Bruner drove in three runs apiece.


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