By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– With Withnell playing Corvallis and Post 20 the Keizer Crushers Monday into Tuesday, both squads had to dig deep into their pitching staff’s to conserve their top arms for their four-game series the next two days for games that will dictate towards State next month.
The Dodgers turned to Brock McMullen, their catcher who hasn’t pitched in three or four years to start the game while the Dirtbags turned to Andrew Zellner, the younger brother of former Dirtbag and current Western Oregon catcher Anthony Zellner.
After giving up a run apiece in the first inning, each McMullen and Zellner hung zero’s. It wasn’t the ‘traditional’ pitching duals with both pitchers tacking up strikeouts like shingles on the board, but they got the job done.
“I mean I just try to throw strikes and that’s all you could really do. I don’t throw every hard, everyone knows that but I hit my spots and that ended up showing,” said Zellner. “When you can hit the zone and have a good off-speed, it ends up good for you.”
“I was thinking about it last night and what was in my head was like, ‘I can’t do anything wrong because one, I’m don’t pitch so what do they say if I end up messing up?’,” adds McMullen. “So I went out there with the mentality that I was going to throw strikes, so that’s what I did.”
McMullen’s dad, Jerry, pitched in the Minors and in Independent ball from 1995-2001. The Sprague incoming Senior went six innings with a strikeout while holding the bats of Post 20 to five hits before Max Long took over in the seventh inning in the Willamette Classic Championship Game.
“I was just going out there to throw strikes and I have a good defense behind me, so I wanted to go out there and put the ball into play because I know I wasn’t going to blow by anybody,” said McMullen. “Sean (Alvarado) catch in center, everyone was on tonight, it was fun.”
The Dodgers overall held the Dirtbags, who were missing a few bats in their lineup like Ruben Cedillo, Emiliano Alacron and Eric Kessler from the Championship Game due to the Oregon All-Star, to one run entering the extra frames after neither team could break the stalemate at one apiece.
Post 20 did the same, holding a recently surging Withnell team who had won five-in-a-row to the same one run with recently added Danny Alvarado to the roster sacrifice hitting in a run in the first inning with their six hits their offense generated in the game.
And with how strong Zellner was, and his relief after the fact knowing he didn’t have to go out after nice plays by Blake Arritola and Braden Allison in the outfield, it was bound to happen that the Dirtbag bats will pay off on the scoreboard entering the bottom half of the eighth inning.
Thanks to an Allison double, Jacob Maiben single and a walk by Blake Arriotla Post 20 had the bases juiced with no outs with Kyle Mitsuyasu coming to plate.
The incoming West Salem Senior belted out a single, just enough to score Allison from third for the 2-1 win eight innings to clinch the Championship for the Dirtbags.
“I don’t it’s kind of our payday I guess. We’ve been grinding all week and we came out with a ‘dub’ so that was nice,” said Mitsuyasu as Post 20 open their four-game series with Keizer at WOU Monday. “Just take it day-by-day, one game at a time and just focusing on that on move on to the next one.”
It’ll be the Dirtbags 14th and 15th games in 12 days Monday before traveling to Stayton Tuesday for the Games 3 and 4 against the Crushers. Withnell will host Corvallis Monday for a doubleheader and will travel to Corvallis Tuesday.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald