By Jeremy McDonald
ROSEBURG, Ore.—In their first game of the season, Post 20 faced-off against a familiar opponent that has halted their State Championship hopes three times in the last two seasons in the Medford Mustangs.
“They’ve beat us the last couple of years so it was good to come out and beat them in the first game. Get a good pace going, that’s good for our team. We hit really well,” said Jaret Stewart. “We missed a few signs here and there but we still pitched well as a staff and it was good.”
Stew the Dude pitched strongly as the incoming second-year Western Oregon University pitcher struck out five in four innings and allowed no runs allowed with the Dirtbags leading 1-0 after four innings.
But the five-time Triple-A State Champions showed why they’re one of the State’s best as they tied it up with West Salem’s Hector Amador on the bump in Post 20’s lone run allowed in their 2-1 victory in the fifth inning.
With their bats, thanks to Jacob Maiben and Blake Arritola leading the charge in their lead-off and second-spot respectively, the Dirtbags got baserunners on the base-paths in the bottom half of the fifth inning that eventually led to Maiben scoring on a pass-ball to hand back the lead to Post 20 entering the sixth.
“Our bats stayed hot, we got the runs early. Our bats stayed hot and we kept moving guys around, we got our bunts down. We executed everything, our defense was clean and it helped the pitchers,” said Arritola, who went 2-for-3 and an RBI in the win.
Jacob Maiben went 2-for-3 with a Triple while twin brother Derek collected a hit as well. Eric Kessler picked up a stolen base with his base-hit as well.
Amador pitched a clean sixth inning as Kaiden Reidhead, who pitched a handful of outs this season at West Salem, came in for the seventh and got the save only facing four batters in the frame for the opportunity.
Yes it’s only the regular season and there’s a good chance that the Dirtbags and the ‘Stangs will play again in the postseason, but it’s nice for those returners like Stewart to finally get over the hump and get a win over Medford.
“It’s good, it tells them who we are and we’re ready to compete this year. I mean a couple of our guys, the returners, our goal is to make it to the World Series this year,” said Stewart. “The last couple of years we made it to the Sunday at State Tournament so we decided to have a goal higher than that to accomplish it. So it’s good that we were able to compete against these guys and beat them.”
In their second game Friday, Eric Kessler took to the bump against Roseburg as the Post 20 squad jumped out to a 5-2 lead on the Doc Stewarts. But the host-team would storm back with eight unanswered runs to take the game 10-5 as the Dirtbags face Willamette Valley Saturday evening at 5pm.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald