CORVALLIS, Ore.–Dallas was able to get after Crescent Valley’s Ethan Krupp by going deep into the count versus the junior and were able to get base-runners against him as they took a 1-0 lead against the number-one 5A team in the Raiders entering the bottom of the first inning.
“It’s huge, it feels great. They have some of the best pitchers in the State and this is a good hitting team,” said Eric Kessler. “Every time we come out here, we’re not afraid at the plate, we’ll smack the ball around the yard and whoever they put up on the mound we’ll be ready to hit.”
But, entering the bottom of the first inning, the bats of Crescent Valley challenged the Dragon defense with hard hits and their speed on the base paths that forced Dallas into committing three errors in the inning that resulted in the Raiders taking a 4-1 lead entering the second inning.
As he spoke to the team in between innings, Head Coach Scot McDonald was trying to get his team back on track and was in-game using that first inning as a learning experience.
“I told them that we have plans, we have approaches, we know what they are going to do and some schemes that we’re going to incorporate and a lot of it is just focus,” starts McDonald. “So one of the biggest things is that you have to focus on every pitch. We can’t just have the ball hit and react. You got to be already knowing what you are going to do and already have played that out in your head.
“And maybe it was a good wake-up call that we got to do that against tough teams.”
Krupp gave up a hit here and there as his defense kept Dallas off the board until the fourth inning where Logan Graber hit a nice triple to get back on the board for the first time since the first inning.
The Dragon defense, though they allowed a run here or there for the reminder of the game entering the sixth inning, made some nice plays. A throw-out play to Treve Earhart to end the second inning after Earhart had a pick-off from his catcher position to second base for the first out in the second inning. Kessler got a strikeout to end the third and two double plays against the Raiders in trying to find someway to stay in the game.
Through the adversity, Dallas kept battling as they loaded up the bases in the fifth inning with Hardy Hinton hitting a RBI single that was followed by a pass ball score that kept the Dragons within five of Crescent Valley at 10-5 with the Raiders beginning to go to the bullpen.
“Every game you play, you learn something new especially with the losses. There’s a lot to be gained from this game and seeing these guys out here, they’re a tough team but they’re a tough team and we learned a lot today about their strengths and weaknesses,” said Kessler. “We showed our weaknesses, we also showed some strength. I mean tomorrow, we’re going to come out and have our defense behind us, we’re going to be hitting and it’s going to be a good game.”
Crescent Valley won’t be denied however, as they showed why they were the number one team in 5A as they scored five more runs to enforce the 10-run rule before Dallas could get another crack at their bullpen.
But, as they go back home to host the Raiders Wednesday with Jaret Stewart going to the bump in Game 2, they know that their defense is going to need to come ready to go along with their bats for the next one.
“The crisper defense you play, the better everyone is. More confidence, more energy. We just got to go out there and play good defense and we are, there’s always going to be one of these games where we slack off a little bit or mentally, physically I don’t know what it is.
“It’s huge to have a defense behind you whether it’s Stew or me or anyone that can throw just strikes and throw hard. They’re going to put the ball in play, it’s CV they hit the ball really well.”