By Jeremy McDonald
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore.– After a 5-7 start to the season, it was hard to imagine Withnell to even be in this situation battling for a fifth day of the American Legion Triple-A State Playoffs.
They were one of the Final Four teams in the State of Oregon to be remaining as they opened the twin-bill of games Tuesday afternoon at Kiger Stadium. And yes it was a tough way to go, falling 14-8 to Eugene in the Elimination Game, the fact they were in this situation after their slow start to the season this summer.
“It’s a really good thing, finishing Top 4 in any league at any level is really, really good and it’s something extremely proud of,” said Noah Ferguson. “I think we should be proud of as a team too, Top 4 when we started…we didn’t start the season really well and we just caught fire. That’s what led us to where we are right now.”
Ferguson wet 2-for-4 while driving in three RBI’s in the game as Withnell jumped out to a 8-4 lead on the Challengers in the win-or-go-home game entering the bottom half of the fourth inning. Danny Alvarado drove two in on two hits and Will DeLoretto added another two hits for the Dodgers.
Sprague’s Brett Hassoun started the game after throwing an inning Monday against the Barbers, and outside of the four runs he allowed in the second inning, the incoming Junior settled back down in the third inning with the pressure situation he was throwing in.
The Big Hass, who’s expected to be one of the major arms for the Olympians in 2020 pitching, said that this summer has been a beneficial one for him in his development entering this next Spring.
“Learning from these older guys this year has been the best, the most incredible opportunity I’ve got,” said Hassoun, who struck out two in two-and-two-third innings. “Working with (Mike) Godfrey, I mean next year learning everything, I think it’s going to be a good year next year. Learning and working with them, it’s going to be good.
“Just coming out today, I just wanted to prove that these next couple of years are going to be strong and I wanted to leave something for the guys that are going to be around next year. I think we came out strong, we were down pitching, but we came out the best we could and it’s been great.”
The biggest issue for a tournament like this, it puts pressure on your pitching staff come the last day or two of the tournament with strategy coming into play. With the lead, and wanting to save arms, the Dodgers took the risk and see what the depths of their pitching can give them with Greyson Hanowell and Jake Davidson.
Unfortunately, Eugene had timed out Hanowell and Davidson, made the Withnell defense worked and scored the final ten runs of the game while the Challenger defense had shut down the Dodger offense after their strong start.
“We came out banging right out of the gate. We put up three runs in the first, three runs in the third. We were hitting the ball all over the park,” said Ferguson. “It just got kind of got away from us, I mean it happens. It happens to every team, good or bad.
“But it’s not a reflection of who we are as a team, we know we’re a good baseball team. We had a blast while we were up here and we know we did well. Top 4 in the State is really good.”
Davidson struck out two in two innings of work.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald