KEIZER — A ground ball to second base off the bat of Hayden Rasica ended the Henley baseball team’s quest for a state title.
Banks scored three unanswered runs and shut down the Henley offense for the final six innings to win the Class 4A state title, 3-1.
The loss stings for the Hornets. Finishing with 24 wins on the season, playing in the final game of the year
“It’s a dream come true,” said Andrew Reynolds. “I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys and a better coaching staff to do it with.”
All four runs in the game were scored in the first two innings of the game. Great pitching and flawless defense by both teams made scoring runs all the more challenging. Two-out hitting proved to be difference at Volcanoes Stadium.
After two quick outs in the first inning, Banks was able to put its next four hitters on base. Starting with a four-pitch walk, a wild pitch put Colten Hasselman in scoring position. Dakota Bunn, Blake Gobel and Thomas Cook all singled to take a 2-1 lead over the Hornets.
Getting the second out in second inning proved once again to be struggle for Fitts. With a runner on third, Fitts was called for a balk, allowing Trask Applegate to score giving the Braves a 3-1 edge.
“To be honest, it’s the championship game and your just really trying to focus and over focus, it was really hard when they kept hitting and hitting to get that third out,” said Fitts, who gave up five hits and three earned runs.
“The initial excitement those first two innings, getting those out of my system really helped me.”
For the next 2 2/3 innings, Fitts found his groove and didn’t allow another run, keeping Henley within striking distance.
“All you can ask for from your starter is to give the team a chance,” said head coach Adam Randall, “and he certainly did that.”
Jeffery Hundson threw 1 1/3 inning of scoreless relief for Henley.
Banks’ Hayden Vandehey tossed a completed game, stuck out three, allowed seven hits and one earned run to help the Braves complete a Class 4A triple crown after having earlier this season won football and boys basketball championships.
The day couldn’t have started any better at the plate for the Hornets. Andrew Reynolds opened with a hit on the first pitch of the game and stretched it to a double, catching the Banks defense snoozing. Reynolds would steal third and score on a sacrifice from Blake Loney.
“I was excited,” Reynolds said. “Anything like that at the start of the game is great. It picks everybody up. We were hitting it. We just couldn’t find holes.”
Henley would go the final six innings without having another run cross home. The chances were there for the Hornets, but they couldn’t cash in as they tried to win another state championship 38 years to the day when the Hornets won their first of their nine titles.
The Hornets stranded two runners in the third inning. In the fourth, with runners on the corner, Skyler Howard tried to steal second in an attempt to bring the runner home from third. Banks, however, executed its defense and threw the runner out at home to end the inning.
It wouldn’t get any better in the fifth inning.
After a Trevor Rote (named Henley’s Most Valuable Player, who finished with two hits and a handful of stellar plays at the hot corner) and Hayden Rasica singled, Loney ended the inning by grounding into a double play.
A double play in the second inning ended another chance to cut into the deficit.
““Those definitely swung momentum over to them,” Loney said. “We had one earlier and it just kills the other team when those happen.”
“Watching it happen, it drains you,” Reynolds said. “I’m proud of everyone for staying tough, and think if those are five feet to one side that’s a base hit and it’s a whole different game.”