By Jeremy McDonald
AURORA, Ore.– North Marion knew that the target on their back’s was a big one.
Entering their Oregon West Conference-opener versus Newport, the Huskies sat first overall in the State of Oregon in 4A and were sitting at 10-1 entering their game versus the Cubs who were looking to de-throne North Marion from the top spot.
For the majority of the game, it was truly a defensive match-up between Griffin Henry and the Huskie defense versus Jacob Dobmeier and the Newport defense as the excitement of the Cubs and the stone-face of North Marion found themselves tied at one entering extra innings at Bob Brack Stadium Monday afternoon.
“Our defense played great with very little errors but for the most part we’ve had sound defense all year,” starts Noah Vacther, who had a nice 9-3 double play to end a inning during Monday’s game. “It looked good, even towards the end of the game. We had a few key plays to get us out of big situations.”
Henry and the defense turned the side as they looked to take the game in walk-off fashion.
Nic Iliyn singled, Grant Henry’s groundout advances Iliyn to second with Issac Hanson being intentionally walked before Newport got out of the inning to force a ninth frame in the game.
For a offense that’s produced at least six runs in four of their last five games, the lone run on the board to four hits to that point was a bit frustrated as they were getting hits against Dobmeier, but couldn’t find the open gap.
“Well we swung it ok, we just didn’t get runners in when we should have,” said Andy Schmitz. “But as for hits go we had some good swings, but they didn’t find gaps. We had a lot of hard hits right at people, so those will start falling later in the season and maybe in the next game they will fall.”
One of these two teams needed a break along the way in this game to pull ahead of the other. The game could possibly continue into the evening under the lights with how both defenses were playing lock down defense on the other’s offense with the chance of a game that could stretch into the double-digits in innings.
Fortunately, the former happen before the latter could occur. Unfortunately, it would be the Cubs who got the break in the game as they capitalized on a few hiccups and plays along the way in the ninth to take a 3-1 lead entering the bottom of the ninth inning and the Huskies needing at least two runs in their last three outs to at least continue the game into the tenth if not winning it in the ninth.
“The first game of the week is always tough to get some energy, we came out a little flat but I’m sure we’ll bounce back for sure next game,” said Schmitz.
“It was pretty hard, but you got to give them props. Laser’s one down the line at the fence, it was a nice hit and it’s hard. It’s not fun,” adds Vacther who flashed a grin.
North Marion would try to make most of their final three outs as Jared Hauser gets on base with one out that was followed by Vacther’s blooper single to get two on board down 3-1.
Schmitz hit’s a ground-ball that resulted in a Fielders Choice as Vacther’s was called out at second and Schmitz safe at first, a moment later however Schmitz stole second with two outs on the board.
“It’s great because we didn’t die. We kept going, we kept fighting and didn’t let it effect us and we got into great position,” said Vacther. “Runners on second and third with a chance of a base-hit ties it up, it was great. It didn’t come through but it will next time.”
A fly-out ended the game, 3-1 in favor of the Cubs of Newport for their second win of the season. But, Tuesday’s a new day and a new game as both teams meet up again, this time in Newport as the Huskies look to seek revenge on the Cubs for their win in Aurora Monday.
“Well, we’re ranked first so everyone’s going to give us their best and we just got to embrace the target and go after people like they’re going to come after us,” said Schmitz. “We just got to come out with a lot of energy, swing the bats and play great defense like we did today and bounce back.”