By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– It wasn’t pretty, but they got the job done.
At one point in the second game of their double header versus Tillamook, Stayton (2-5) held a 10-1 lead on the Cheesemakers only to fight to hold on for a 10-9 victory for their second win of the season.
It was a rollercoaster, nonetheless, described Ryan Brown as he saw the 10-1 lead that he built on the short time he was on the mound, being reduced rather quickly after the third inning.
“We started off hot, we’re doing good then we kind of fall off there a bit and let a lot get on,” said Brown. I mean those errors are going to happen, yeah they happen but we should definitely beat them a lot more than one.
“I think it’s just repetition, muscle memory,” Brown added on how they can improve. “Just getting those ground balls that are there, just getting them there.”
Everything was going right entering the fourth inning for the Eagles.
A 10-1 lead, Brown had led his defense with six strikeouts and everything had the looks of a quick game as Stayton looked towards conference play next week.
Then, Tillamook slowed the game down, errors from within themselves or whatever it may have been, the Cheesemakers capitalized on the Eagle miscues and mental lapses to score four in the fourth inning.
That four-run inning was enough to spark a momentum swing as Tillamook scored runs in the fifth and sixth innings while holding Stayton to no runs in those innings as their once nine-run lead was reduced to one entering the top of the seventh inning.
As it came down to the Eagle defense and the Cheesemaker offense in the seventh, the machine that is freshman Donovan Stanley came in for the save opportunity.
Needing strikes, needing to make a play, that’s what Stanley and the Stayton team around him needed to do.
And that’s what they did.
Three outs later behind a team effort; disaster was averted as the young Stayton team rebounded from their first game 3-0 loss as they look to grow as a team entering Oregon West Conference play next week.
“The only thing I could think about was throwing strikes,” said Stanley. “We just need to start out better. We’ve been working on it and getting better. I feel like we got to do better next week than this week for sure.”
With close games like Corbett and both Saturday afternoon’s games versus Tillamook, that confidence like in that seventh inning is what they’ve been slowly piecing together while gaining valuable experience these first several games of their 2016 campaign.
“We have some young kids, they’re inexperienced at the Varsity level,” said Matt Lindemann. “Nothing against them or anything, they’ve just haven’t experienced it yet, they’re just getting used to the whole high school feel and such..
“But when we come together as a whole team and get along with each other and not let umpires get to us or anything like that, then we’ll be fine in OWC play. We just got to come out with confidence despite being young.”
Head coach Drew Heard knows that his team has improved and matured over these first few games of the season, but he knows it’ll take longer than a few preseason games for this team to be at a consistent level as he knows they can be.
“I think there has been some growth and maturity, I think that the lack of maturity has showed itself a fair amount,” said Heard. “It’s not going to be (an) overnight fix. It’s going to be something to be throughout the spring.
“We’re going to have to continue to build on what we did the day before.”
OWC play starts for The Eagles Nine Tuesday when Newport comes to town. First pitch is at 4:30pm.
PHOTO GALLERY (PICTURE BY JEREMY MCDONALD)