By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Noah Juarez’ laser of an arm from his shortstop position has been known for years as the Chemeketa soon-to-be-sophomore been getting his summer reps in with the Titans Baseball Club. Showing off the cannon on several occasions in the four games the squad has played this summer.
His time on the mound however, have been few and far between in recent years. The last coming last summer with the Dallas Post 20 Dirtbags. But he made the most of his two innings Thursday evening in the Titans 6-3 win over the Stayton Bandits leading 4-2 in the fifth with the bases loaded and no outs.
“I just knew my job. I knew I just had to go in there and throw strikes and know my defense will be there to help me. I knew I was going to throw strikes, it’s just fine I didn’t need to worry,” said Juarez.
Juarez had, in the top half of the fifth inning, sent a shot to the outfield and handed the Titans a then 3-2 lead before scoring on a Crosby Albee double the next at-bat.
For the Titans, who started Braden Allison the first three innings, it was a slow start. The Bandits Wyatt Connally, a lefty incoming sophomore for the Stayton Eagles, had held the Titans to two hits while striking out six batters on a team with several collegiate athletes in their lineup. Connally had to face Juarez and University of Jamestown-commit Blake Arritola second and third batters of the game with the other strong bats on the roster.
“I think I did ok; I was nervous because past games we’ve seen the guys hit pretty well,” said Connally. “As a pitcher it was hard to come in and think you’re going to do good, but I think I did alright. It was important to stay with it. Staying mentally with it mostly.”
Stayton answered Ben Nagle’s RBI sacrifice with two bottom of the first inning runs off an RBI Double from Aaron Nease and an RBI single from Tanner Manning to take a 2-1 lead.
Allison settled in over the second and third innings, dueling with the young gun in Connally into the fourth before handing off the reins in the fourth inning. Allison struck out six in three innings.
Connally lasted until the fourth, the bats of the Bandits couldn’t duplicate much success to pace the standard their defense was setting forth, mustering a Nease sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth to pull within one of the Titans at 4-3.
“We have (Batting practice) coming up. Just taking some quality swings and working on swinging it. I think we’ll did alright,” said Connally, who went 1-for-1 hitting Wednesday.
Nease’s three-pitch at-bat versus Juarez, who came right as Nease walked to the plate, was three of six pitches Juarez threw in the fifth inning. Juarez would face five batters in the sixth inning, turning a ground-out, fly-out and picked up a strikeout to ensure the lead stayed in-tact for Hector Amador to close out the 6-3 save in the seventh.
“We just kept with it with our at-bats, obviously we started off a little bit slow. But as the game went on, we gradually got better. Next time we just got to come out with some more fire and not take three-, four-innings to get the bats rolling,” said Juarez, who went 2-for-3 with 2RBI’s at the plate. “(Amador) did great. He’s awesome, he came in and did what he had to do: Throw strikes.”
Wilson Neitzel was the other Titan with two hits, going 2-for-3. The Green Machine’s final two runs came off an outfield error in the sixth, scoring Nagle and Arrtiola with the Titans facing the Olympians on June 9.
Nease went 2-for-3 with an RBI as the lone multi-hit batter for the Bandits Thursday. Bryce Campbell, who came in for Connally in the fifth, struck out five in two-and-two-third innings. Stayton plays Central on July 8.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald