By Jeremy McDonald
AURORA, Ore.– A new face joined the Portland Gherkins Tuesday afternoon at Bob Brack Stadium at North Marion High School.
“Leading off from the University of Jamestown: Blake Arritola.”
Donning the light blue number eight, with his Chemeketa Community College batting helmet on, the future Jimmie outfield walked up for his first career at-bat in the Gherkins uniform.
“It’s better competition obviously, better baseball to be playing,” said Arritola, who went 0-for-2 with two walks in four plate appearances Tuesday.
For each of the Portland Gherkins and the Gresham GreyWolves were entering their second-game in the Wild Wild West League (WWWL), but for Arritola, Tuesday’s game was roughly his sixth-, seventh game of the summer. Having played with the Titans Baseball Club 16-plus squad at the Willamette Valley Men’s Baseball League leading up to Storm Head Coach JJ Mascolo inviting him to join the high-talent that the WWWL has to offer.
“I think I’m more mentally prepared, I’ve been seeing the same pitches. It was a lot more of an easier transition than for some other people coming out here for the very first time all summer,” said Arritola. “I feel like I did pretty good, I think we did better as a team than what have been going on in the past few days. I think we’re moving in the right direction as a team too.”
The eight runs scored and the five hits in the 15-8 defeat Tuesday were season-highs for the team who had combined for two runs and two hits in their previous two games against the West Linn Knights and the Portland Pickles with the Gherkins are underway of their inaugural season in existence.
For Arritola, he flew out in his first at-bat with the Gherkins in the first inning before drawing a walk in his second at-bat. Arritola reached base in the fourth inning off an error, walked in the sixth and stole a base before bowing out of the game for North Marion’s Brady Hansen.
All that’s missing for the former West Salem Titan-graduate is to adjusting to the speed of the level he’s lining up in Center Field against and the pitches he’s seeing at the plate. Adjusting and stepping up his game for the University of Jamestown, facing guys from Stanford, Oregon State, University of Oregon and the University of Portland as the Gherkins hit the diamond again Wednesday at 2:30pm against the Knights before playing the Pickles again Thursday night at 7:30pm.
“I think It’s going to get me very prepared. It’s going to be very good competition,” said Arritola.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald