By Jeremy McDonald
ROSEBURG, Ore.– Jacob Winstead came into the game during the second inning with runners on base with his Withnell Dodgers defense looking to shut down the flood gates that the Corvallis bats had created.
After allowing a quick hit, the South Salem-transfer settled in and got outs that included a 1,2,3 inning in the top half of the third to try to give his bats an opportunity to rally back down 6-1 to the Gerding Builders Minutemen.
“I know that they’re a really good hitting team, I give them props for that, they’re one of the best hitting team’s in our league,” said Winstead, who had four strikeouts in relief. “I just wanted to help my team in anyway I could, it doesn’t matter to me how many strikeouts to me I have. They’re helpful at times, I know that my defense has my back everytime.”
But, a few mistakes defensively in the fourth inning allowed Corvallis to extend their lead to 8-1 before Reyes Luna cut the game to 8-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning as the Dodgers got a few baserunners on base, but couldn’t bring them home as Withnell had five hits through the first six innings of Monday afternoon’s game.
“I mean it was tough but playing with these guys, we’re family,” said Justin Culpepper. “It was super fun and I know we couldn’t have make it last year, but this year it was a fun ride with these boys. Going out with their head held high and that was a good ball club and they got the better of us today.”
The Minutemen pushed their lead to 9-2 entering the seventh inning, but the Dodgers couldn’t muster one last comeback this summer season as they saw Corvallis end their season 10-2 as the afternoon gave way to the evening.
During the bottom half of the seventh, after being hit by a pitch, Tori Doten was subbed out for Michael Bray as Doten, Tanner Sorensen and Justin Culpepper all played their last games in the Withnell uniform.
Doten was greeted by his teammates who came out of the dugout to meet him before the next at-bat was to start.
For Culpepper, who was on-deck when the last out was caught, he will always remember these summers playing in the Red and Gray of the Withnell colors.
“During the season I always looked forward towards Summer ball. Summer ball you get all the guys, it’s like All-Stars, you get best-of-the-best around your area and you get to ball out with the best guys,” said Culpepper, who will be returning for his second-year at Chemeketa Community College. “It’s fun seeing new faces and playing with new guys, learning new things. It’s a great experience.”
Culpepper, as the team met for the last time as one, told the younger guys to enjoy these moments because it goes by fast as the younger guys take what was learned this summer and incorporate them into their games this offseason into the Spring and next summer as they learned from the coaches and their teammates.
“I think being around the players on this team, the coaches that really help me grow as a player and as a team player mostly. I think that we’re going to comeback next year and be a lot better,” said the incoming junior in Winstead. “It was a good experience for me (learning from Mike Godfrey) and I know I’ll be working with him in the offseason getting better for my high school team and also back here with Withnell.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald