By Jeremy McDonald
TURNER, Ore.– As we’re coming down to the final week of the regular season across the Springs Sports landscape, there is still work to be done on the diamond for the playoff push.
North Marion, who enter the week in the driver seat for the Oregon West Conference Title with only two losses and a clean sweep of Cascade would seal the deal while the Cougars are fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive sitting on the outside looking in at 29th by day’s end.
The Huskies opened the game jumping out 2-0 and Griffin Henry retired the side before North Marion extended their lead to 5-0 entering the bottom of the second inning over the host-Cascade team.
“I mean it’s huge, we need momentum going into the playoffs and this is a great way to start it,” said Henry from a defensively perspective as Henry struck out 11 in Monday’s game.
“Yeah it’s great, we’re playing for a common goal right now and that’s to win a league title and I don’t think we’re going to stop short of getting that league title, so we really want that right now and that’s what we’re playing for,” said Andy Schmitz, who went 3-for-3 with three RBIs and three stolen bases.
The Cougars went after the junior lefty with two singles, a sacrifice bunt and walk that had loaded up the bases before the rally was halted by a Henry strikeout and a base-path out that ended the inning.
Cascade’s Jake Davidson got himself on base with a single and got into scoring position with a steal in the third inning, but Henry and company shut the door on him and the Cougs entering the fourth inning up 8-0.
“It was real tough, they came out of the gate just stealing bases, small ball just trying to put pressure on us so it was hard to get the ball rolling obviously. Defensively I felt like we were out of it today, we didn’t have errors but we were mentally not there so that was a big problem today,” said Davidson, who led Cascade offensively with two of their four hits.
The Huskies tacked on five more runs to their total in the fourth inning as they kept the Cougars from extending the game beyond the fifth inning in the 13-0 victory.
And now that Cascade has seen what North Marion looks like in action and their tendencies in their aggressive, small ball action and challenge the other team’s batters by putting the ball in the strike-zone and finding the open gap.
“We just got to open the bats up, I felt like we got to do small ball bats and put a lot of pressure on them. They got to make errors too,” said Davidson. “I feel like pitching today was a little rough, we didn’t pound the zone very well, we walked a lot of guys and that allowed them to play small ball, steal bases and what not so I feel like if we pound the zone a lot better they’ll hit the ball to the ground and hit the ball in the air and we’ll make plays.”
The Huskies know too that it’s hard to sweep a team with their prior series like with Newport, Philomath and Stayton and they know that Cascade will look to do the same in this series as the Cougars look to try to slip into the postseason and try to ruin North Marion’s hopes for a outright league title.
And Henry said that the first game win today is a good momentum swing for them to come back out Tuesday at home to try to duplicate it again in Game two and Schmitz ecohed that in terms of approach.
“I think we need to approach tomorrow’s game like we did today and come out swinging nice and aggressive. We just got to play our game and we’ll be great,” said Schmitz.
First pitch is 4:30pm and it is also Senior Day for the North Marion baseball team Tuesday afternoon.