By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– The fun of the playoffs have officially kicked off Monday afternoon across the State with the 6A Classification starting things off first.
With Sprague and South Salem putting finishing touches of their respective wins across the bridge Monday, West Salem and Oregon City found themselves in a hostile environment entering the fifth inning on their side of the Marion Bridge as afternoon merged into evening.
Tied at two apiece entering the fifth, coaches from both dugouts asked for clarification on calls, dugouts were loud as the crowds on the other side of the fence were as if a stranger walking up to the game would think it’s the end of the game that the next run could be the game-ender. It had the feel almost like a second-round, maybe quarterfinal game feel to it instead of a 5/28 opening round match-up as it was.
“It was really good for us to see this early on, so later in the week its going to be very more intense against better teams so it was very good for us to see it first game of playoffs,” said Noah Juarez as the Junior brought in the first two runs of the game off RBI singles in the first and third innings with both team’s trading blows offensively.
Defensively, they had to go through the noise of the dugout filled with red jerseys that were just as aggressive with their bats as their vocal exchanges were from their bench. But hey, Lucas Stanfield has been in these situations before and did what he had to do to give his offense opportunities to get onto the scoreboard again.
“I know that my team has my back always and I know if I bear down and keep doing what I’ve been doing all year,” said the Junior Pitcher as he struck out 12 in the game in five-and-two-third innings of work.
That no fear mentality showed throughout the game no matter the pressured situation that the game presented West Salem and his way. Following one of his strikeouts that ended the third inning, Stanfield let out a hoot that looked to have sparked his team who responded to the juniors sound of excitement.
But the payday wasn’t until the bottom of the fifth when they slowly started to pick the Pioneers apart.
Grant Thies had a lead-off double that was followed by two walks to load the bases with one out mixed into the walks. With the bases loaded and one out, smart offensive play and batter IQ in the box resulted in a Hit-By-Pitch, Error, Hit-By-Pitch resulted in scores that turned a 2-2 tie into a 6-2 lead.
The Titans weren’t done yet. In the bottom of the sixth inning, the bats picked up again with Thies once more with a single, Shaun Dhote with a double to follow and Juarez was walked to load the bases once more.
Thies scores on a error and two walked-in runs scored and a pass ball shortly after made it a three-run inning to push their lead to
“That was a huge inning for us to get those runs because it was so close that either team…it was up for grabs, so props to us for making the adjustments and get the hits when we needed to was good,” said Juarez who went 2-for-3 on the day offensively.
Thies led the charge with three-hits for West Salem as they now turn their focus to Tualatin coming to town Wednesday with the Titans eyeing a quarterfinal berth beyond Wednesday’s game if they take care of business first.
“I think if we bring what we brought what we had in the later innings, the fifth-sixth innings, string together a lot of hits and get a lot of hits in I think it’ll help us a lot than keeping it close and keeping our steady energy throughout the game instead of up-and-down and keep it throughout the game,” said Stanfield.
Time is still being settled, but the place will be West Salem High School on Wednesday.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald