The comeback is over.
Wearers of the rally cap for much of the season, the never-say-die Phoenix baseball team finally ran out of comeback lives on Wednesday, falling to La Salle 5-3 in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
After their three-run third inning, the Pirates struggled to score at U.S. Cellular Community Park. Phoenix left a pair of runners on base in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings and never threatened in the seventh, flying out and then striking out twice to end things in uncharacteristically undramatic fashion.
The quiet exit was unusual for the Pirates, who wrote the book on bounceback wins this season as they captured the Skyline Conference title with a number of improbable victories.
Phoenix added to its resume of rallies last Friday, trailing by two runs in the seventh against South Umpqua before surging to life late to win 6-5 in eight innings in the 4A play-in contest.
The Pirates (17-9) didn't have such mojo on Wednesday.
"I was afraid we were using that magic up too early," Phoenix senior Kyle Treadway said. "I guess we used it up last week against South Umpqua."
The Pirates did their only scoring after a weather delay that lasted around 40 minutes. With the game scoreless in the bottom of the third, Kameron Kaufman hit an RBI double to left field to drive in Justin Bohn, who was walked before hail and rain paused the action.
Treadway followed with a thunderous two-run single to right that gave Phoenix a 3-0 advantage.
The Falcons responded quickly — Kyle Studdard's RBI single to left field capped La Salle's three-run fourth inning.
"We continued to battle," La Salle head coach Chris George said. "We made mistakes and we didn't play a perfect game, but we just battled."
Spencer Savage's RBI double with an out in the fifth inning gave the Falcons the go-ahead run.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Christian Adam and Kaufman both singled before Treadway popped up and Albert Reynoso grounded out.
"The confidence kind of left once we started giving up runs and it just didn't come back again," Treadway said.
Vince Matteson put the Tri-Valley Conference champions ahead 5-3 with his run-scoring double to left field in the top of the seventh.
And there would be no comeback in the bottom of the frame, a rarity for Jackson County's comeback kids. Tim Keith flew out to center field and Joey Keith and Nolan Scott struck out.
"I guess we just ran out of luck," said Kaufman, one of five seniors on the team. "We usually come back. Our luck ended."
Winning pitcher Luke Ehli, who relieved starter Parker Portash in the fourth inning, struck out three and did not allow a run to improve to 7-0 this year.
Kaufman finished 3-for-4 with two doubles for Phoenix.
Cody Farnes, Savage and Matteson all recorded two hits apiece for La Salle, which committed all three of its errors in the first three innings.
The Falcons (18-8) advance to play North Valley on Friday. The Knights edged North Bend 6-2 in eight innings.
La Salle 000 310 1 — 5 10 3
Phoenix 003 000 0 — 3 8 1
Portash, Ehli (4) and Line; T. Keith, Treadway (4), Bohn (7) and Kaufman. W — Ehli (7-0). L — Treadway (4-1). 2B — L: Savage, Matteson; P: Kaufman 2, Bohn, Al. Reynoso.
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email email@example.com
Pirates' luck finally runs out with loss
The comeback is over.