By Jeremy McDonald
INDEPENDENCE, Ore.– It was bound to come down to who will score last.
Third-ranked Central and Sixth-ranked Silverton didn’t just go the distance, going 2-all after regulation, but beyond like the Foxes Owen Bischoff and the Panthers Ruben Cedillo did over the Green Monster in Right Field to force the Major League distance in the Mid-Willamette Conference game.
But it didn’t take the Professional Distance to dictate a winner as it took 10 innings to decide a winner with Silverton edging Central 4-3 to open the series.
“It was definitely the most intense game I’ve ever played in,” said Bischoff, who went 2-for-3 with five strikeouts on the bump, of the game. “They’re a tough team. We didn’t show up with the sticks the first seven innings, but we’ve persevere like crazy.”
Both starting pitchers, Kaleb Kantola for the Panthers and Gage Mack for the Foxes, went the distance. Kantola struck out nine while Mack collected six.
Minor hiccups here and there defensively allowed what came out to be a low-scoring affair, opened opportunities for Silverton to opened up a 2-1 lead before Connor Laeng knotted it up at two in the bottom half of the seventh on a RBI Double.
“We were all looking forward to this game and obviously the next couple of games against (Crescent Valley) too and we gave it our all. They came out on top today,” said Cedillo, who collected two hits in the game with his Homerun.
Cedillo scored the first run for Central in the bottom of the fourth inning off a pass-ball to cut a then 2-0 lead down to size.
Both sides traded Homeruns, but defense stonewalled either offense from scoring into the ninth with the heavyweight bout entering the tenth round. That’s when Cooper Hannan slapped down a sacrifice hit to drive Hunter Runion home to hand the Foxes a 4-3 lead entering the bottom of the inning.
Confidence was high as Cedillo was walked to load the bases with one out. A simple base hit could possibly end it.
“I was confident, I thought Emiliano (Alacron) was going to poke something out there,” said Cedillo. “I wasn’t tensed up at all. I wanted a hit; they didn’t give me anything to hit.”
Alarcon had already had an infield hit and a line-drive for a double when he came up with two outs on the board, but Bischoff forced outs in the air for the final two outs of the game. The final out came when Mack, who moved to Left Field after his pitching performance, dove for a barely fair ball just in time to end the game and seal the victory.
“It also just describes us,” said Bischoff as they mobbed Mack like it was a game-winning hit. “We’re gritty, and we may not have a dude whose D-1 or we have six college commits like teams in our league. But we’re gritty.”
Just one more inch perhaps, and it would have been the other way around and Central would be celebrating a win instead of the Foxes. But it just drives the Panthers further as they’ll look to win in Silverton Wednesday in hopes to build some momentum for the two-game series with the Raiders Friday.
Cedillo admits that errors on defense, himself included, that helped in decided the game. But Wednesday would be another chance to get back at the Foxes.
“We need a win. We need to fight at their house and get a win back and onto CV,” said Cedillo. “Defense. Just hit more. Today was good, their pitcher was pretty good. Our pitcher is good, but it came down to defense.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald