By Jeremy McDonald
KEIZER, Ore.– Entering this series, both team’s fates were sealed beyond Tuesday’s single-game in Keizer.
But, for both team’s, there were still a ton to play for. Mostly, to play the game most of them had played for the good amount of their lives one last time.
After Mid-Coast won a walk-off in Game one of the series and Keizer cruising to a 15-3 win in Game 2, the Crushers jumped out to a 7-2 lead entering the fourth inning of the game and looking to end the season on as high as they can before taking off the uniform for the last time.
However, the Dungies made things interesting.
Rallying from five-down, Mid-Coast took a 11-7 lead entering the bottom of the eighth inning, forcing Keizer to do something they had trouble doing all season long:
But. On this day, like they did against against Post 20 on June 28 down 6-0, they went to work.
Entering the ninth inning, they were down 11-10 thanks to a pass ball, a Brice Shippen RBI hit and Tyler Covalt’s RBI double to get the Crushers to within one.
Covalt, one of the youngest kids on the team entering his junior year, has been playing like he’s a recent graduate. But the McNary ballplayer doesn’t look at himself as a young guy, but one of the guys.
“I think having the competition and go up to it helped a ton. Just being with guys that I like here,” said Covalt”I mean I don’t think I’m the youngest guy here, I just think I’m just like all these guys here.”
Covalt and crew went to work and hung a ‘0’ on the board to give them an opportunity to hang one last ‘crooked’ number on the season to give their fans and themselves one last thing to cheer about.
To rest their hats on something great.
Jonah Geist was hit by a pitch to start the ninth and Kennedy-grad Jack Suing Sac-hit him over to second.
And whether it was the Captain America arm-sleeve or what, but whatever it was, when future Pacific University Pitcher Josiah Gilbert came to the plate it worked because he tied it up with a RBI double as Brenden Frizelle and Colton Meyer were intentionally walked to load the bases.
“It’s huge, obviously it sparked (everyone), everyone’s freaking out,” “It definitely sparked some energy led us to the win.”
That meant, with one out on the board, electricity in the air of excitement and Josh Benson coming to the plate, a simple sac-fly would win it for the Crushers. That’s all they were looking for.
Call it fate, call it what you will, that’s what they got as Benson chipped it far enough out that Gilbert, now on third base, was able to run home for the win.
“It’s a great feeling, it reminds me a lot of football, just under the lights I guess, all the pressure is on you,” “And it’s a great feeling just being able to preform under that. I knew all I had to do was to elevate the ball to the outfield and it got it done.”
As they celebrated the win, this will be the last time the boys of Keizer will be together.
Benson will try out for Chemeketa in the Fall, as mentioned above Gilbert will be attending Pacific and Covalt will be returning to McNary in the Fall. But, as they clean the field up one last time with Rap Music playing, they won’t forget the moments they spent together as a team.
“It’s been great,” said Benson.”Keeping me in baseball, keeping my arm strong, keeping my swing. Getting better everyday trying to work on it and ending the season off with a win was great and keeps me happy with baseball wanting to play more and more.
“It sucks we didn’t make playoffs or anything like that but it feels good going off with a win. Definitely won’t be the same going off with a loss, but it was great.”
And though he’s going on to the next level, Gilbert knew how important this game was for not just himself, but those who aren’t going on past Tuesday’s 12-11 victory in terms of ending their careers with a ‘W’.
“A lot of us are done with baseball after this, so take two wins to finish off the season, some of us finish off our careers,” said GIlbert. “It just makes the whole season brighter. I mean when you get that bad taste in your mouth over and over again it’s hard.
“But having a win like this kind of wipes some of that out. It makes you remember a couple of things a little bit happier it makes you reminisce more in a happy way.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald