By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– Having some momentum carrying over from a late-game rally versus Corbett Wednesday morning, the Stayton Eagles Baseball team quickly passed the Illinois Valley Cardinals 12-3 early in the afternoon.
Everett St. Clair knew that they had a chance to make up for their mistakes in their morning game with their second go around in the day.
“We knew in the first game that we should’ve won and we knew that we made dumb mistakes that we could’ve fixed it in this one,” said St. Clair. “So we decided to make it up and we told ourselves that we need to stay positive and up at the beginning of the game and that’s what we did
“It proves to us that we can win,” said Everett St. Clair. “Not saying that (IV) is a bad team or anything but it’s actually good to have a ‘W’ and knowing that we can do it and be ready for the next game.”
The first four runs of this one came off of wild pitches, but up 3-1 entering the third inning, the Eagles managed to keep their errors and pitches under control while taking advantage of the Cards mistakes and turning them into hits and runs on the board.
For Head Coach Drew Heard, these two games helped him identify how they can improve on heading into Saturday’s game versus Molalla.
“The second game we’ve made an improvement over the first games, but we still have a lot of young mistakes that we’re making and I think that’s going to get better,” said Heard. “Being young is only an excuse for so long and I think this team has a lot of tremendous potential, so it’s just a whether or not we reach that potential and I believe that we can.
“But we have work to do if they’re ready to go. If they’re ready to put in the work, we can be very successful.”
Heard believes that these mental errors from these first three games could be reduced if they remember what he’s been preaching: Six seconds of focus.
“The University of Oregon asked their players for six seconds of focus. How many plays in baseball takes longer than six seconds? None. Potentially an inside the park Homerun maybe. But that’s what I’ve asked of the players is six seconds of focus and I heard a couple of the players mention about that.
“Now it’s the matter of the next step of putting it into play. I don’t think I’ve witnessed us make a ‘true’ physical error, yet in three baseball games. So it’s right in between our ears.”
The day started under blustering conditions as wind played a major factor in hitting as pitching and defense had to be on their toes.
Behind two runs and a balk-insisted run, Stayton found themselves in a 3-0 hole after three innings.
But, the Eagle defense kept themselves in this one entering the bottom of the sixth inning behind three one-two-three innings and three double plays that either featured or had involved Ben Diehl.
“We just have to practice better in game situations,” Diehl said on how they can improve. “We had a few fly balls that were very, we didn’t call for them very well. We should’ve figured out who’s who and who’s supposed to get it.”
Stayton found a groove for their bats late however in the bottom half of the sixth inning and produced two runs in that part of the inning and had an opportunity to at least tie it in the seventh inning with runners on second and third base with two outs.
Though Kyle Jorgenson groundout to first to end the game, the sour taste mixed in with bats slowly coming to life and strong defense carried into Game 2.
“It was close, but not close enough. It was a little bit too late,” said Diehl. “We did good later in the game, we did pretty good in the field for the most part, but other than that we did just fine.”
PHOTO GALLERY OF BOTH GAMES (PICTURES BY JEREMY MCDONALD)
Jeremy McDonald is a professional sports journalist in the Salem/Portland area and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalist in Oregon with B.S. degrees from Southern Oregon University in Journalism (2011) and Health/PE (2013). Got a story idea? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @J_McDonald81