By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Sprague needed some momentum leading into this weekend’s big league doubleheader with Bend starting with their doubleheader with Mt. View Wednesday afternoon sitting 0-1 in Mountain Valley Conference play and 4-4 overall.
And they completed what they needed to do against the Cougars, sweeping the doubleheader 7-5 and 11-1 respectively.
In the opening game, Michael Soper went five innings against Mountain View striking out nine in a consistently tough small strike zone to work with. A challenge yes, but it gave Soper a little bit of peace of mind knowing what he was working with on the mound.
“It wasn’t too hard. It was consistently small so you knew right away if it was a ball or strike. You just got to zone in and throw it,” said Soper, who also went 2-for-3 with two RBIs at the plate.
Soper dished out a two-run shot in the first inning that brought in Will Deloretto as Sprague jumped out to a 3-0 lead entering the fifth inning before the Cougars got it to 3-2 entering the bottom half of the inning.
The Olys answered quickly however. Deloretto singled, driving in two runs, Brock McMullen drove in a run off a line-drive and Cole Herschbach added an RBI single to turn a close one-run ball game into a 7-2 lead.
Jackson Hildenbrand came in for relief for Soper in the sixth and didn’t skip a beat with the small strike zone, turning the three-up and three-down inning.
In the seventh however, Mountain View weren’t ready to go down easily and had timed down some hits against the Sprague defense. The results were three runs and the tying run at first in a 7-5 ball-game.
Confidence was still there between pitcher and his defense, having already turned a groundball and a dropped third strike into outs amidst the chaos of the last stand the Cougars were on.
“I think every pitcher on this team trust our defensive players to let them put it in play,” said Deloretto, who pitches and plays third base. “We trust him as much as he trust us. I think when it’s crunch time like that, just ‘D’-up.”
And in crunch time that’s what they did as Hildenbrand got the last out of the game via strikeout.
In Game Two of the series, Sprague made sure that Game One’s ending wouldn’t have happened again by jumping out to a 9-0 lead in route to a 11-1 win to improve to 2-1 in league play.
Herschbach allowed three hits in five innings pitching while adding three hits offensive in Game two. Deloretto, who went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, went 1-for-3 with a RBI in Game two.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald