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Young Wildcats get time to shine

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview junior Jackson Brown threw a complete game against Reynolds on Tuesday, striking out six while driving in the go-ahead run at the plate.

How bottomless is Westview’s bountiful well of suited baseball players?

Six of the Wildcats’ 11 starters who took the field for the squad’s first round OIBA state tournament game on Tuesday against Reynolds rarely saw a peak of playing time last year. Some of the skilled new arrivals will have to cater to next-level upperclassmen in 2015 ,when Parker Kelly, Kenyon Yovan, Teagan Lind and Colton Sakamato rejoin the squad.

They will probably have to bide their respective time on the pine next to head coach Steve Antich and learn the ropes of Westview’s program from the older guys ahead of them.

And yet, for one muggy morning at West Linn High School against a Raider team that made the second round of the 6A playoffs last year, the future was now.

Undeterred by their lack of experience in elimination games, Westview’s next wave of talent totaled Reynolds’ hopes of a summer championship, wiping away the Raiders with an eight-run explosion in the bottom of the sixth inning to roll to a 9-1 win and advance to the second round of OIBA action.

“(Lind, Kelly and Yovan) are great players, but we were just excited for the opportunity to come in and get to play,” said junior starting pitcher Jackson Brown. “We got the chance to start at our positions and show what we could do. Everyone’s been doing that really well this summer. Everyone’s stepped up. We’ve just proven how deep of a team we can be.”

“That’s really valuable,” said senior third baseman David Nivena of the team’s depth. “We’re trying to get our timing down so, when we come in next year, we can execute.”

Nivena and Brown both played instrumental roles in Westview’s sixth inning detonation. Nivena ignited the rally with a leadoff double, then Keita Fabrega reached on a bunt single, and Brady Johnson blooped a single to load the bases for Brown who helped his cause with a sacrifice fly to left, 2-1. Left-handed hitter Luke Pilat lifted an RBI single to center and shortstop Taiki Ishii racked a single to right to go up, 4-1. Tristan Garnett walked with the bases loaded to score another run, as did Jayden Hanna that extended the lead to 6-1.

“Every game is working toward the spring,” said Brown. “This is basically a preseason. We’re working hard so, when spring comes, we’ll be ready. We came together in the sixth and were able to hold ‘em, so it was good.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview's Tristan Garnett hacks off a single up the middle in the first round of the OIBA playoffs against Reynolds. Garnett had two hits.

Nivena then notched a two-run double to right, and Fabrega brought home the eighth and final run of the stanza with an RBI groundout, completing an outstanding bat-around-the-order offensive outing in the sixth.

“I was just trying to get on base, so I took him deep in the count and found a ball I could drive,” said Nivena. “We made (Reynolds’) pitcher throw a lot of pitches, and we swung at the ones in the zone.”

Brown said Westview honed its approach at the plate by going the opposite way and putting the ball in the outfield gaps as opposed to pulling it.

“We looked for a pitch we could hit, jumped on the first fastball and made good things happen,” said Brown. “It was great because it was a tough game. We were nervous here and there, but we came together.”

Brown was impressive on the bump, only throwing two balls in the couple of innings on his way to a complete game, a six-strikeout, four-hit outing. The junior right-hander noted he tried to pound the strike zone, make Reynolds put the ball in play and let the Westview defense do the rest.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview first baseman Brady Johnson slaps a tag on the head of Reynolds baserunner during the Wildcats 9-1 win over the Raiders on Tuesday.

For instance, in the third inning with Raider runners on second and third with two outs and the game tied at 1-1, Brown caught the lead runner leaking off the bag with a whirlwind pickoff move to Ishii at first.

Ishii ran the escapee down the line, then threw home to catcher Tyler Stofiel to stop the Raider dead in his tracks between third and home. Stuck in a pickle, the Reynolds’ racer had no chance as Nivena, Stofiel, Johnson playfully toyed with the flailing Raider until Johnson slapped on the inning-ending stage.

It was a play that belied Westview’s relative deficiency of seasoning in the infield, but one the Wildcats were prepped for thanks to an in-tune training session on Monday.

“We practiced that all day yesterday,” said Brown. “We were ready for it, and when the time came we executed. You just have to be ready for the situation and we were.”



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