Pleasant Hill, Sports Zone

Billies baseball stumble late as postseason looms

PLEASANT HILL – It was all right there for the taking.

The Pleasant Hill Billies baseball team was set up for a conference title – what would be its second in three years – after winning Game Two of a doubleheader over No. 7 La Pine last Wednesday. Thanks to the Game Two doubleheader win, all Pleasant Hill needed to do to lock up the conference crown was beat No. 22 Elmira on Thursday.

Leading 5-1 midway through the 5th inning, all seemed well in hand when Pleasant Hill’s conference hopes crumbled over the next two innings, losing 6-5 and falling to third place in the final Mountain Valley Conference standings.

Pleasant Hill still finished the regular season 19-6 and is ranked No. 4. All of that is despite the team facing: No. 1 Douglas, No. 2 Banks, No. 3 Warrenton, No. 5 Sisters (3x), No. 7 La Pine (3x), No. 8 Brookings-Harbor, as well as Class 4A No. 4 Marist. Overall, the Billies are 9-4 this season against teams that made the Class 3A playoffs.

 “We’re as battle-tested as it gets. We’ve gone through the highs, we’ve gone through the lows, and we’ve lost some games we shouldn’t have, but the one thing I think is really special about this team is there’s only been one game that’s been outside of two runs difference. And that was at Marist the second game of the year,” Billies coach Johnny Bowden said after the La Pine doubleheader. “This team gives themselves a chance to win every day, and that’s huge. I love the way they’re battle-tested. They’ve been through the grinder, and they know what to do.”

PIERRE WEIL / CHRONICLE PHOTO. Pleasant Hill’s Hunter Allen throws a pitch during the team’s 7-3 win over La Pine.

Pleasant Hill finished third in the MVC behind Sisters and La Pine with a 14-4 conference record, and lost only one series all year to La Pine. After a 4-2 Game One doubleheader defeat against La Pine, the Billies bounced back in Game Two and won 7-3 behind a 5-run 4th inning. Caden Richardson led the way in the win with 2 hits, 2 runs, and 2 RBI – all after pitching 7 innings and recording 10 Ks in Game One.

“The first game was extremely tough. We didn’t play our game, and that can be easy to have a letdown in the second game. The reality is this team is tough. They bounce back,” Bowden said. “They find ways to get things done, and that’s what’s so special about this team.”

The Billies earned the 4th seed in the Class 3A playoff bracket and host No. 13 Taft in the second round of the playoffs on Wednesday. A win in the second round would likely set up a quarterfinal matchup with MVC foe No. 5 Sisters, who the Billies went 2-1 against this season.

“We just need to rest up. We’ve been pushing pretty hard, and we’ve had a lot of sickness – I think one time we had nine guys sick on our team on a game day. We have been through the wringer as far as illnesses and injuries,” Bowden said. “It’s been a tough one, but this group has it. They’ve got it figured out. If we can get it rolling in the playoffs, we are gonna be very dangerous.”



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