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LA GRANDE’S JOSH GAMBILL struck out three hitters in two innings of relief in the Tigers’ 4-2 loss to Stayton Saturday. CASEY KELLAS / The Observer
La Grande saw its season come to an end with a 4-2 loss to Stayton Saturday at Optimist Field in a 4A play-in baseball game.
The Tigers struggled at the plate and made some costly errors on defense that ended up being the difference maker.
“I feel bad for the seniors, to have it end like that,” coach Mark Lanman said. “But you can’t make those kinds of errors and expect to win.”
Stayton picked up a run in the second inning on a Kaleb White overthrow to third base.
Derek Buchiet laid down a bunt that White fielded and attempted to throw out Levi Kunkle at third base, but the ball sailed into foul ground along the third-base line, allowing Kunkle to score.
The Eagles added another run in the fifth inning on an RBI single by Greg Scott that brought home Cale Byers to make it 2-0.
But the Tigers were finally able to get going in the sixth inning.
A one-out double by Erik Jacobs gave LHS some momentum.
Then a hard hit ball by Logan Lankford that ricocheted off the shortstop allowed Jacobs to score from second to get La Grande on the board.
Hayden Albrecht’s RBI double tied the game at 2-2 and it appeared La Grande was in control.
But the Tigers stranded the go-ahead run at third base to end the inning.
In the top of the seventh, Byers reached on a bobbled ball by Albrecht at shortstop.
Following a blooper to right center by Scott and a hit by pitch by Cassidy Brock, Kunkle came through with a sacrifice fly to deep right field that put Stayton back on top, 3-2.
A wild pitch by Josh Gambill allowed Scott to score and stretched the lead to 4-2.
La Grande threatened in the bottom of the seventh, but Jake Chamberlain was thrown out at third base when he thought the third baseman vacated the base enough on a Tyson Wicklander bunt attempt.
The Tigers stranded runners on first and second when Jacobs struck out to end the game.
“It stings. I feel bad for Erik. But he’s going to go on to play college ball. I told him he’s going to have a lot more chances to get that hit,” Lanman said.
White struck out three in five innings of work, while Gambill sat down three in two innings.
Kyle Denton got the win, pitching six innings and striking out five.
Both Chamberlain and Albrecht finished with two hits for LHS.
As a team, the Tigers finished with six hits and committed three errors.
La Grande entered the game ranked No. 2 in the Oregon School Activities Association’s latest poll.
The Tigers finish the season with a 15-10 overall record.
Stayton will go on to face No. 1-ranked Ontario Wednesday in the state playoffs. Ontario defeated Mazama 11-1 this weekend.
Baker defeated Crook County 9-8 in 10 innings in its play-in game Friday.
The Bulldogs earned a No. 4 seed entering the playoffs and will play host to fifth-seeded Madras Wednesday in the opening round.
McLoughlin fell to Molalla 7-5 Saturday to end its season.
The state title game will be June 2.