By Jeremy McDonald
CORVALLIS, Ore.– Keizer looked as if they’ve carried momentum from Tuesday’s win against Portland into their next tough road test against the Corvallis Gerding Builders at Corvallis High School Wednesday evening.
With players from strong programs like 3A’s Santiam Christian, 4A’s Philomath, 5A’s Cresecent Valley and Corvallis that all finished near tops of their respective conferences and made runs in the playoffs this past season, it wasn’t hard to see the talent and fire-power that helped Corvallis jumped out to a 4-1 lead after four innings around a Crushers defense who only allowed five runs in their first game the night before.
However though, Keizer too had some good at-bats and baserunning in the Top of the fifth as they kept the Gerding Builders within reach for their offense to do some damage.
Braycen Schumacher cut the deficit to two with a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded and double steals by Javon Logan and Colton Meyer put two more runs within 180 feet of possibly tying it up with Noah Tavera coming to plate.
Throughout the game to this point and again in the Top of the ninth inning, the Crushers had runners knocking on the door of runs by getting them into position; but had a tough time getting them across home-plate as they hit it right to people.
“We’re hitting the ball hard, it’s just right to them so I mean that’s kind of hard,” said Tavera. “I think we can hit the ball, we’ve shown that we can hit the ball, we just got to find gaps in the field and we should be fine.”
Though Keizer gave up 13 hits on the night, the Crushers defense bent, but didn’t break.
Despite four early runs through the first four innings of the ballgame, Carl Rumbaugh came in the fifth in relief for Riley Hays with his curve ball and his off-speed pitches on point and threw Corvallis through a loop of sorts and giving the Keizer defense an opportunity to get into a groove.
“I just tried to trust the stuff I have,” said Rumbaugh. “It’s been a while since I pitched, so I thought just coming in with the same mindset I have and just throw the ball. I don’t think about it too much and just throw the ball and have fun.”
The Crushers allowed one run in the fifth, followed that up with a 1, 2, 3 inning in the sixth and only allowed roughly two hits between the sixth and eighth innings as Jasiah Hanson came in during the eighth and picked up two of Keizer’s six strikeouts in the game.
Rumbaugh had a team-high three strikeouts and Hays added another in four innings pitch as the Crushers know they need to finish better defensively when they get deep into counts as they were many times Wednesday.
“We could’ve done better,” said Logan on the defense. “They just found the gaps and they hit the ball on a 1-2 count, 0-2 count. They hit little bloopers. Can’t do anything about that.”
“Out defense has been pretty solid, we’re pretty fast all around and I think if we just stick to be able to get them to at least line-drive maybe, we’ll be able to get them out so. Our defense is pretty solid, it’s just a matter of finishing the count,” adds Tavera on how they can improve defensively.
Weather permitting, the Crushers will play host Thursday to the W.V. Titans (4pm and 6pm) and then host N.W. Stars Academy Saturday (3pm and 5pm) both at McNary High School.
Score By Innings 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 — T H E
CRUSHERS 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 — 2 6 1
Gerding Builders 2 0 2 1 0 0 0 1 X — 6 13 1
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald