By Jeremy McDonald
SILVERTON, Ore.– Former Dallas Head Coach and current Crescent Valley assistant and pitching coach Scot McDonald knew he needed to challenge the bats of the Silverton in the bottom of the first inning.
By the end of the first inning of the Raiders 9-5 victory Crescent Valley led 6-4, but the combined walks (eight) outnumbered the hits (seven) by both teams. But the strategy that came with out in the first to pull starter Taylor Holder for Roam Neff proved to pay dividends moving forward.
“We know he’s a strike thrower, but he was a guy that is really hard to hit. Sometimes you can have 95, or you could have that 68-70. Extremes that kids don’t see too often,” said McDonald of Holder and Neff “And so (Neff’s) kind of that extreme where it’s slow and he’s spotting it up, his ball sinks and moves. High School hitters aren’t pure hitters so you allow them get themselves out by allowing them to swing at the balls that are going over the plate.”
Neff came in with the game was a 6-3 Raider lead with one out and the bases loaded. He surrendered one run off a Zack Gerhards walk that made it 6-4 but after that walk, the Junior only allowed one more run for the duration of the game.
“It was pretty stressful and then I came in, I didn’t think I’ll do so good. I walked the first guy and then I came out and threw strikes and tried to be as calm as possible,” said Neff.
Neff pitched the remaining 6.2 innings of the game, striking out four and walking none while raising havoc on a Foxes squad that took game one of the series 2-1 on Monday afternoon in Corvallis.
“I don’t think there’s an excuse for it really. We were a little lazy in the dugout with timing and stuff, we got to be better than that,” said Silverton’s Hunter Runion. “We should have tee’d off on him, it’s the same as Dallas from what we’ve seen but it was a little different going from Taylor to seeing Roma.”
Gage Mack, who saw his pitch count approach 50 after the first inning when Crescent Valley took a 6-0 lead, settled in over the next three innings before Owen Bischoff came in for relief in the fifth inning when the game was 8-5.
But as the defense for both teams answered, the bats couldn’t string in the runs for the Foxes as the Raiders added an insurance ninth run in the sixth inning.
Caleb Warde mentioned how they need to do better from the first inning, but too knows that they got one against CV is a good sign of things to come down the stretch.
“It’s a good experience because it does show us the type of team we are. It shows that we can compete at the top level that Crescent Valley has competed at for a couple of years now,” said Warde. “That was one of the first time we’ve taken a game at their place and that just kind of shows that we can grate it out if we play our game.”
And with Silverton, the Raiders and West Albany all a game behind Central for first-place in the Mid-Willamette Conference, the win was a good one for Crescent Valley in staying with the pack around them in the standings.
“That was a huge game. It was huge, if we don’t win this we’ll be not looking so good,” smiled Neff.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald