By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– It’s not too often anymore that American Legion teams get to play a nine inning game.
Three-years ago, it was a common occurrence to have at least a nine-inning game with league before playing two seven’s. But with Saturday’s game, Withnell had the opportunity to test out their endurance before their last series of the regular season with a nine-inning game with Bend’s D-1 team.
“I felt like it was really good, I don’t think we’ve played a single nine-inning game this year yet and it showed,” said Jake Davidson. “We got to the last few innings and everyone was kind of getting gassed out. There was a lot of life in the dugout but I think it’ll help come extra-inning games, close games.”
The team they’re playing for the league title Tuesday and Wednesday, Post 20, had played an 11-inning game versus Corvallis Wednesday at Western Oregon and have played in a few long games themselves this season.
Saturday’s transition game between the Mid-Coast Dungies and the Dirtbag series was a good preparation for sure just in case they get into another extra inning game as they did when the two teams met in the Willamette Classic Title game back on June 23.
“It’s good to see it and know what it’s like all-around. Playing, pitching and everything. Just get use to it,” said Rylan Webster.
Webster and Davidson each had two hits each in the win with Withnell producing eight total hits to eight runs on the board. Webster had a two RBI single in the first inning that helped the Dodgers in their three-run first inning.
South Salem’s Ricky Alvarado got the starting nod, going five innings with three strikeouts before Sprague’s Brett Hassoun came in for the sixth. The Dodgers pushed their lead to 6-0 before the Lava Bears plated two runs in the sixth inning.
Hassoun too struck out three over three innings in relief with the Dodgers playing some depth and giving everyone an opportunity to get some reps entering the home stretch of the season as they had a good transition game for what’s ahead of them.
“It’ll be kind of good to push forward with the momentum for Post 20 for sure. We got somethings to work on, but we’ll get it done,” said Webster. “We hit well today, but I know for sure everyone could be better. There’s always things to work on, the little things. Tune up.”
The pressure is there, the target is on their backs now up two games on Post 20. At least a split would win them the title and hand them the automatic bid to the State Tournament in Klamath Falls on July 27.
But with the Dirtbags, faced with Corvallis on their backs in the standings and having a few injuries on their roster at the moment, won’t be anything short but difficult in the process.
“Just playing Withnell baseball. Hitting the ball, going out and attacking, leaving it all on the field,” said Davidson on the pressure. “We just have to look what’s past that and set goals. I think we lull a lot because we don’t see the potential we have and think ‘oh we’ll have it handed to us’ or blah, blah, blah and there’s no life.
“So I think that’ll help us a lot if we just set goals and beat Post 20, that’s the goal.”
The series starts Tuesday at 3pm at Western Oregon University.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald