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Lincoln City
Friday, June 5, 2020

Team effort rallies Taft into State baseball tournament quarterfinals

Bleiz Kimbrough threw 3 2/3s innings of shutout relief (Photos by Eric DeMello)

Junior starter Eli DeMello collected four hits in four trips and visiting Taft used a five-run fifth inning and shutout relief from senior Bleiz Kimbrough to hold off favored Irrigon 5-3 Wednesday to advance to the quarterfinals of the Class 3A OSAA State Baseball Championships.

“We didn’t have the odds in our favor for this game, but we came into their place knowing it was going to be a battle,” Taft coach Matt Hilgers said. “We knew we were going to see some of their best stuff. They won their league and we expected this to be a good game.”

Starter Eli DeMello starred at the plate with four hits in four trips

The 11th-seeded Tigers, 17-10 overall, will meet No. 3 Santiam Christian (20-6, 9-3 SD3) at 4:30 p.m. Friday. Santiam Christian defeated No. 14 Salem Academy (11-10, 7-5 SD1) 9-7 Wednesday to advance.

Senior Cody Knott, who had Taft’s only extra-base hit with a double, drove home two runs and scored once for Taft in the fifth, who sent the Special District 5 champion Knights home for the season at 20-6.

“We got down early on, but we kept our composure and stayed within ourselves and battled until we finally broke through and scored some runs,” Hilgers said. “We have been telling the kids the same thing all year and that is we are playing against ourselves. We are not playing the other team, we are playing against the game. We do what we need to do and we will give ourselves a chance in the end.”

The Tigers turned to “small ball” to reach the quarterfinals

Taft turned to “small ball” to help get past the Special District 5 champions DeMello, Knott, Hindman and sophomores Darius Smith and Ethan Thomas all scored for the Tigers in the telltale fifth. Junior leadoff hitter Trenton Fisher had Taft’s other RBI.

Junior Lucas Hindman had Taft’s only other hit as the Tigers were outhit 9-6, but rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the top of the fifth after Irrigon scored once in the first and twice in the third off DeMello.

Kimbrough struck out three and walked none in 3 2/3s hitless innings to notch the win.

“This was a great win for us to travel five plus hours and win a game like this on the road,” Hilgers said. “We have a familiar opponent in Santiam Christian on Friday. We just need to take the same approach into Friday’s game as we did today and focus on what we can do to give ourselves a chance at their place.”

Eli DeMello makes a diving grab and throw

CLASS 3A BASEBALL BRACKET

Taft 5, Irrigon 3
TAFT             AB  R  H BI  IRRIGON              AB  R  H BI
Trenton Fisher    4  0  0  1  Payton Smith          3  0  2  0  
Eli DeMello       4  1  4  0  Mathew Moreno         3  2  2  0  
Cody Knott        4  1  1  2  Kieth Fleming         4  1  1  1  
Tyee Fisher       3  0  0  0  Zack Henrichs         4  0  1  1  
Bleiz Kimbrough   3  0  0  0  Lino Covarrubia       4  0  1  1  
Fco Ramos         3  0  0  0  Brady Harrington      2  0  0  0  
Darius Smith      2  1  0  0   Joe Vanbecar         1  0  0  0  
Kaden Hindman     2  0  0  0  Damon Sawyer          3  0  1  0  
Lucas Hindman     3  1  1  0  Caleb Adams           2  0  0  0  
*Ethan Thomas     0  1  0  0  Dalton Schnieder      3  0  1  0  
TOTALS           28  5  6  3  TOTALS               29  3  9  3

TAFT                          000 050 0 -- 5  
IRRIGON                       102 000 0 -- 3  

LOB--TAFT 4, IRRIGON 9. E--Eli DeMello, Kieth
Fleming, Mathew Moreno. 2B--Cody Knott, Payton Smith, Lino
Covarrubia, Zack Henrichs. HBP--Caleb Adams, Payton Smith.
SB--Eli DeMello, Darius Smith, Damon Sawyer, Kieth Fleming,
Mathew Moreno.

 TAFT                        IP    H    R   ER   BB   SO   HR
Eli DeMello                3.33    9    3    3    2    1    0
Bleiz Kimbrough (W)        3.67    0    0    0    0    3    0
 IRRIGON                    
Zack Henrichs              5.67    3    0    0    0    6    0
Mathew Moreno (L)          1.33    3    5    5    2    0    0

WP--Eli DeMello, Zack Henrichs (2). SO--Lucas Hindman,
Bleiz Kimbrough (2), Trenton Fisher (2), Cody Knott, Damon
Sawyer, Payton Smith, Kieth Fleming, Brady Harrington.
BB--Kaden Hindman, Darius Smith, Brady Harrington, Mathew
Moreno.

Jim Fossum
Jim Fossumhttp://SilverandBlackToday.com
Homepage Executive Editor and former longtime Sports Editor of the near-200,000 circulation Las Vegas Review-Journal, Fossum brings 40 years of award-winning experience covering virtually every facet of print and digital journalism to Lincoln City Homepage. The former longtime reporter for the Newport News-Times and Lincoln City News Guard is also Editor-in-Chief and Senior Columnist for SilverandBlackToday.com, which covers the NFL's Oakland (Las Vegas) Raiders.

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