By Jeremy McDonald
MONMOUTH, Ore.– When Post 20’s Hunter Johnson stepped to the dish, teammate Jackson Holstead just knotted it up at four-apiece with no outs on the board.
The story leading up to this was a roller-coaster of a ride leading up to Holstead’s tying shot and with pinch runner Shaun Dhote at second base, in for Luis Amador, 180 feet away from the win to best describe this game.
Through the first four innings, the Dirtbags jumped on-top of the Dodgers Cody Vestal for three runs on four walks and five hits to lead their cross-bridge rival 3-0 entering the Top of the fifth inning.
“We had a plan and that plan was, ‘See fast-ball up and hit’. At first it was hard because it was fast ball down and we were swinging at a few bad pitches,” described Johnson in the first couple of innings of the game as they slowly timed up Vestal’s arm angels to jump out in front.
Though the magician that is Vestal with his arm-angles had two strikeouts in three-and-two-third innings, Withnell settled in when South Salem’s Gavin Fredinburg came in for relief and had shut down the Post 20 offense.
Up until the top fourth inning, Noah Boatwright’s single was the lone hit for the Dodgers, but slowly the bats of the Dodgers woke up as Tori Doten’s RBI single broke the shutout and eventually by the end of the top of the seventh inning, thanks to Max Long’s two-RBI double, Withnell went to that bottom-half lead with the lead.
“It shows a lot about our team and how we took the momentum, it was a team effort. It’s just getting to the end of the season that’s showing us how we can do it and that we can compete in the playoffs,” said Doten. “So it was exciting to see that.”
For the remainder of the game, both sides traded hits and defensive masterful plays that included a Dirtbag double-play in the Top of the sixth inning a Long catching the final out of the sixth behind teammate Nick Orlandini as we went to the bottom of the ninth inning.
It was tense, similar to that of big games that both teams had throughout the season. But Post 20 remembers June 25. They remember losing the Championship game of the Willamette Classic to Withnell as Anthony Zellner singles and is bunted over.
They remember that 10-8 result as they tie the game. That pain came to fruition Sunday afternoon at Western Oregon University this time instead of Willamette when Johnson connected on the first pitch he saw that brought Dhote home from second base for the win and denying the Dodgers of a victory on this day.
“I mean we came off hot at the very beginning and then we kind of let them back in,” said Johnson of the hit. “We kind of took some innings off which is bad and then we came out and the guys in front of me got on and done their job and I got up there.
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald
“I knew I was going to get a fastball because he couldn’t walk me, so I was like, ‘sit right there and fast ball’ and I did it.”
Pain is there for Withnell, they know it’s their turn to answer back and Johnson admits that they know that the Dodgers will be seeking revenge Monday in South Salem for the 2pm start of the doubleheader; and Withnell knows they can get it done with what they showed in the second-half of this first game.
“We just got to use the momentum we got,” said Doten. “Though we lost, we still found some momentum. We just got to keep that energy from those big innings that we had. It’ll be fun tomorrow to see how it goes and see how we come out.”