By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– The first league win is always the hardest; but once you get it, it is addictive.
Missing several players and re-arranging their lineup, the upstart Stayton Eagles accepted the challenge from the opening pitch versus Yamhill-Carlton.
But, they got the job done for the 11-5 victory for their first Oregon West Conference win of the 2016 campaign.
“It’s a relief honestly,” said Riley Nichol. “The season started off really slow but we got it going, got the bats going. It’s nice.
“We started out with strong energy, the dugout was cheering, got our bats going and our defense was solid. We just stayed through.”
The Eagles soared off with strong pitching from Ryan Brown defensively and Jordan Butler got the mojo rolling when a simple bunt to move Everett St. Clair over to second turned into an RBI triple with no outs.
“The bats got going today was good,” said Butler. “The past few games were on and off for a few innings, but we were steady for this whole game.”
Stayton scored two during that first inning and added two more in the third inning as Brown and his defense bent, but didn’t break for a 4-0 lead after three innings.
Then, another speed bump. Another wave of adversity as Yamhill-Carlton cut into the Eagle lead.
After settling down though, Stayton held onto a 4-3 lead entering the bottom fourth.
That would be the closest that the Tigers would get.
Knowing they’ve been here before, the Eagles ballooned their lead to 11-3 entering the top half of the seventh inning thanks in part to the bats, a four-run sixth inning and the defense behind relief pitcher Ben Diehl.
“We definitely stuck with that one for sure,” said Chance Widley on overcoming the fourth inning adversity. “Normally in the past, it’s gotten to us and we fall apart but in that one, we only gave up three runs and that’s a huge comeback from the 7-3 loss we had last week.”
Though they sacrificed two runs in the Top seventh with two outs, Stayton slammed the door to get their first win and hand Yamhill-Carlton just their second loss in four games in OWC-League Play.
“I’m proud of that we persevered and though we saw some adversity,” said Eagles Head Coach Drew Heard. “We didn’t let it shake us today, and we just kept pushing forward and just getting to the next play. So I was proud of that.”
The trick now, as they enter Tuesday’s and Thursday’s two-game series against North Marion, is to carry this momentum, this success into those two games.
“It’s super important because I know my team pretty good and a lot of them want to make it to State,” said Widley. “Some of them want to win every other game and so starting off the week with a win, if we can continue that throughout the rest of the week, that’ll carry into the week after and week after that and to keep this going.”
Game one of the two game mini-series is slated for 4:30pm at home versus the Huskies on Tuesday with Game two Thursday at North Marion High School.
PHOTO GALLERY (PICTURES BY JEREMY MCDONALD)