By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Central got the band back together in a sense.
When Wyatt Bateman delievered the first pitch against the Stayton Bandits Wednesday afternoon at Holland Park, Panther-grads Connor Laeng and Ruben Cedillo stood at third and first base respectively. Donning the Central uniform for the first-time since the 2019 5A State Championship win over Pendleton following their seasons at Umpqua Community College and Linn-Benton Community College had their seasons cut short due to the virus.
“It’s really cool,” said Laeng. “It’s really cool because we were going to play against each other (in college) this Spring, but with everything it’s just nice to play with him again.”
Laeng, playing in his first game since being cleared from a shoulder injury, scored the first run of the game in the third inning in Central’s 3-0 win over Stayton. Cedillo and Kyle Holt each collected two hits and Ricky Taylor had a game-high three hits, going 3-for-4 with an RBI on the day as the Panthers snapped their four-game losing streak to the season.
“It was really nice. We definitely played as a team, we swung the bats really well. We were in a couple of situations where the other team could’ve got runs, but we played great defense,” said Laeng. “It was good to see a ‘W’.”
Similar to their opposition, the Bandits played a solid defense behind Caleb Boyles and Jared Mitchell. Despite surrendering 12 hits, Stayton played clutch in limited base-runners from scoring when in position.
Four innings saw runners on second and third, another with a runner at second, and limited Central to the three runs they got by game’s end.
As frustrated as allowing 12 hits were, their offense that can too put up similar hit-totals were limited to three hits from Wyatt Connally, Aaron Nease and Tanner Manning Wednesday coming off of their week-off for the Fourth of July holiday.
With the Titans Baseball Club and Valley Baseball Club coming up Saturday at 9am and 3pm, they’ll look to the one thing that will help them curve the slump into their favor:
“Practice. Like they said, practice makes perfect,” said Mitchell, who struck out five in three innings in relief. “Coming into the game (Wednesday) we made a game plan, we knew what we wanted to do. We wanted to get double-digits hits and double-digit runs. Obviously, that didn’t happen,
“We wanted to make up for our errors from last game because we had like six of them. Cut them down a bit, but it’s still not where we want to be.”
Wyatt Bateman and Brody Cain for Central combined for the three-hitter, putting the ball in play as the duo struck out a trio of Bandit batters in the victory. The Panthers play the Olympians Baseball Club and Valley Baseball Club Saturday at noon and 6pm.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald