By Jeremy McDonald
LAKE OSWEGO, Ore.– After starting the season fantastically on defense Tuesday, the Keizer Crusher defense Thursday started off the same way with David Allen on the bump as Keizer split up the nine-inning game amongst three pitchers on the road once more at Lakeridge High School.
Allen, in his three-inning stint, pitched a shutout when he handed off to St. Paul’s Justin Herberger, allowing three hits and striking out three that saw two in the first inning alone.
But, the Mustangs showcased their bats by making the Crusher defense adjust to fly-balls and routine grounders on the regular as Keizer held a 4-1 lead entering the fifth inning as Buckaroo pitcher in Herberger and his defense looked to break their scoring drought after a hot start to the game.
“We came out on fire, swinging the bats and everything,” said Salem Academy’s Jacob Haller who had an RBI single to cap the four-inning run that followed RBI doubles by Ty Covalt and Jacob Jackson and a Error score during Herberger’s at-bat. “Then we had a few down innings and we just couldn’t get back into it. The stuff was there to get back into it, we just got to keep that same energy. We got complacent and what not, but it’s there though.”
The Keizer bats went down in order in the top half of the fifth as the bats of the Northwest Stars timed the 2A stud pitcher after giving up back-to-back outs with groundballs as the Mustangs exploded for three-, two-out runs to tie the game up at four before taking a 5-4 lead entering the seventh inning as Herberger and company settled back in after the tough fifth inning.
“In the middle of the game we for sure showed us that we can make errors in that we made them, but a lot of people learned from them though which is what we need going into Withnell,” said McNary-Grad and current-Chemeketa Community College Josh Benson who played second-base Thursday night. “Defensively, we have a lot of solid people. We have a lot of fast outfielders and really good hands in the middle, we have a great first baseman and first baseman, so I think it’s all there we just have to put it together.
“We haven’t been playing together too long but it will come.”
And that defense showed how strong they can be as the Crushers third-pitcher of the game in Silverton’s Owen Bischoff as the junior continued the positive turn-around from the sixth inning into the seventh and eighth with zeros on the board, but Northwest Stars did the same to Keizer as the score went final 5-4 despite getting a few base-runners on in the ninth-inning.
“And that’s exactly what we talked about after the game is timely hitting throughout the game instead of having that one big inning, which we’ll take every day,” starts Benson with a laugh. “But throughout the game we got to put up runs too, which we’ll get caught every game if do that too so that’s going to be the key to winning is timely runs.”
The Crushers will finally be at home Sunday at McNary High School for a doubleheader versus the Dodgers of Withnell. First-pitch of Game 1 is at 2pm with Game 2 following afterwards.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald