UVC senior Daniel Withers was a stabilizing force on the mound for the state-champion Monarchs (Jon Olson)
UVC senior Daniel Withers was a stabilizing force on the mound for the state-champion Monarchs (Jon Olson)

KEIZER -- Umpqua Valley Christian had five consecutive hits to open the game and led start to finish in dropping top-seeded Knappa, 13-9, for the 2A/1A state title Saturday afternoon at the OSAA / OnPoint Community Credit Union State Baseball Championships at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer.

The highest-scoring small-school state final in 26 years lasted two hours and 41 minutes and pitted two scorching-hot teams with championship pedigrees. UVC came into Saturday’s game having won 19 in a row and with three state championships to its credit, the last in 2019. Knappa was riding a 24-game winning streak and had been state champion four times, including the 2018 season.

On paper, this looked to be a titanic tussle for the title between two titanic programs.

That’s exactly what it was.

UVC, which scored four in the first, tallied runs in every inning but the second. Knappa scored in four of its seven innings, including five in the fifth, when UVC’s massive seven-run bulge became a less imposing 11-9 margin.

Senior Daniel Withers, who had three hits, including a two-run home run; came on in relief in the fifth inning for Umpqua Valley Christian and was sensational. He struck out the last five batters he faced, including Knappa star Jude Miller on a full-count breaking pitch, to seal the Monarch win.

“That last pitch,” Withers said. “Full count. I’m hoping our pitching coach gives me slider. I trusted my stuff and it landed.”

“We talk all the time about controlling the emotion of the game,” said Monarch coach Dave York. “There were a couple of times when it got pretty tight but they just came back in with a bat in their hands, calmed themselves down and did some damage.”


The story of the game was told in the first inning. Umpqua Valley Christian (26-5) jumped on freshman right hander Oliver Stevens for five hits and four runs before an out was recorded. Ty Hellenthal, the Player of the Year in Special District 5, drove a 2-2 fastball over the head of leftfielder Kutter Ball to open the game. Logan Anderson followed with a line single to right to put runners on the corners. Withers then hit the first pitch into left center to drive in the first run of the game.

The hits did not stop coming. Cleanup hitter Tyler Hanes drove a 1-0 pitch deep over CF Gavin Barendse’s head for a triple that chased home two more runs. Kevin Shaver completed the opening salvo with a line drive single over 3B Treven Moreland’s head to drive in Hanes.

Ten men came to the plate in the inning. Stevens, who threw 33 pitches, was removed after nine. He wasn’t helped by a Knappa defense that should have turned a double play and committed a fielding error behind him.

After Jaxon Dietrichs came on and induced Hellenthal to ground into a force play with the bases loaded to end the inning, it was time for Knappa to get to work cutting into UVC’s lead. Jude Miller, the Player of the Year in Special District 1, used his tremendous speed to beat out a leadoff bunt off of senior hurler Sean Simonson, Pitcher of the Year in Special District 5, and advanced to second on a throwing error. Braxton Hill used his wheels to follow with a leg single to short. Knappa then executed the double steal to perfection to get on the board. Moreland’s flare single to right plated Hill with the second run. A nice leaping play by Anderson on a Ball line drive prevented further damage. When the inning ended, after 33 minutes, the score stood UVC 4, Knappa 2.

For the next several innings, the drama involved whether Umpqua Valley Christian, the pre-season No. 1 team in the OSAAtoday Coaches Poll, could score enough runs to hold off Knappa, the No. 1 playoff seed. Dietrichs did his part by setting the Monarchs down 1-2-3 in the top of the second on nine pitches. Knappa pulled one closer in the bottom of the frame when Jones drove a 2-2 pitch up in the zone down the right field line for a triple, which scored DH Ash Baldwin, who had walked.

Umpqua Valley Christian got that run right back in the top of the third when Kevin Shaver beat out a grounder to third and DH Tygue Barron singled to center to open the inning. A sacrifice bunt from freshman Ryan Shaver and RBI ground out by freshman Caleb York, the coach’s youngest son, made the score 5-3 Monarchs heading to the bottom of the third.

Heady work from Ball helped Knappa (24-5) get that run right back. The senior, who owns his own farm, led off with a bunt single and advanced to second on a foul out to left by Karson Casper. Ball scored the Loggers’ fourth run of the game when Barendse waited on a curve ball and drove it through the hole on the left side for a two-out RBI.

Umpqua Valley Christian had the top of the order up to start the fourth inning and added to its slim lead with three runs. Anderson and Withers both singled with one out to start the threat. Anderson scored on a wild pitch and two more came home on Barron’s double off the left field fence.

After Knappa went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the fourth for the first time in the game, UVC put its hitting shoes back on to start the fifth. York was robbed of a hit leading off, as Jones ranged into the hole to snag his grounder and threw to first to beat him by a step, but a two-base error and walk created another threat for the Monarchs. Both advanced a base on Anderson’s fly to right, with Simonson scoring when the throw to try to nab the runner going to second was kicked by the sliding Hellenthal into left field. Withers followed with home run to left, on a 1-2 count, that made the lead almost insurmountable at 11-4.

“That was sick!” Withers said about his home run. “I was thinking, ‘Two-strike approach; swing at anything close.’ He hung me a curveball right in my spot. I forgot about my two-strike approach and just turned on it.”

Knappa showed its fight in the bottom of the fifth inning. Dietrichs hit a one-out slicer to right that eluded the dive of Ryan Shaver for a triple. Ball brought him home with a single on a line to center. One out later, Ball scored on a Barendse single and throwing error. Baldwin followed with an RBI single to right, matching the three runs UVC put up in the top of the fifth.

Knappa wasn’t done yet. After a walk to Stevens ended Simonson’s day on the mound, Withers came on and walked Jones to load the bases. Hill, the ninth batter of the inning, then lined a 3-1 pitch to center to drive home two more. The lead was just two! A big fly from Moreland, the No. 3 hitter, would put Knappa, inconceivably, ahead.

Withers got Moreland to fly out to center field to end the inning, but a game that seemed out of reach in the top of the fifth was now up for grabs with two innings remaining.

A four-pitch walk to Kevin Shaver opened the top of the sixth. That’s tough when you’re trying for a shutdown inning to get back to hitting after such a prodigious rally.

A pitching change ensued, with Moreland now on. Moreland hit Barron with a pitch and yielded an infield single to Ryan Shaver, loading the bases with no outs. One out later, with all three bases still occupied, Simonson blooped one to center that fell. Knappa was able to get the force at second, but pinch runner Teagan Sprague scored on the play for UVC insurance. The Monarchs scored one more run in the top of the seventh when Withers was hit by pitch, stole second and scored on a Haynes single to right.

Those extra runs made the final margin of victory four, but they were unnecessary, because Withers started to sizzle on the mound. With his breaking stuff unhittable, the senior worked around a one-out walk in the sixth inning by striking out the final two batters, then struck out the side in the seventh to set off UVC’s celebration.

Withers finished 3-for-4 at the plate with the home run and three RBIs and he yielded just one hit and no runs while fanning five in 2.1 innings on the mound to pick up the save. It’s the stuff of dreams.

“The last three weeks he has been not very good,” York said. “To see him do it in the biggest moment is awesome. I am so proud of that kid for bouncing back. Yesterday he decided, ‘Coach, I’m going to be a different guy,’ and he was today.”

Umpqua Valley Christian finished with 13 hits. The top six hitters in its lineup went 12-for-25. Haynes also drove in three while Barron had two hits and two RBIs.

“Those guys hit the heck out of the ball today,” said Knappa coach Jeff Miller. “You make a mistake and they hit it.”

Miller said he was surprised the game was so high scoring.

“I was thinking the winning team might get 4-5,” he said. “If you told me we’d have 11 hits and nine runs, I’d think we’d be in pretty good shape. They obviously are a good hitting team. The better team won today but I love the fight in our guys. They’re disappointed. They came here to win.”

Miller, Hill, Ball and Barendse each had two hits for the Loggers. Hill had two RBIs.

Knappa will graduate seven seniors, including Ball, Dietrichs and Moreland. Miller said they will be missed.

“That’s just a special group of guys,” he explained. “You’re so used to being with them. They’ll always be a part of you, but you’ll miss the day-to-day contact.”

UVC’s title was its fourth since York started the program back in 1995.

“We’re a 1A school that plays good baseball,” York said

This title held particular significance to the veteran coach.

“My oldest son won a state championship in 2019 as a freshman and now my youngest son gets a championship as a freshman. That’s pretty awesome.”