By Jeremy McDonald
AURORA, Ore.– The Portland Gherkins may have found a perfect combinations of pitchers in the Wild Wild West League Sunday.
The trio of Cameron Hagan (West Salem), Kaleb Kantola (Central) and Carl Rumbaugh (McNary) combined for 14 strikeouts against the Gresham GreyWolves at Bob Brack Stadium in the Gherkins 5-4 win over the ‘Wolves for their fourth win of the season.
Hagan, who pitched against the West Linn Knights in his first Portland outing on Wednesday, rebounded well on Sunday. In five innings pitching as starter, Hagan struck out eight and allowed one earned run with the Gherkins leading 2-1 entering the sixth inning. The two runs coming off an first inning error, scoring Ruben Cedillo and a Rowan Ramsay RBI single, driving in Bryce Bridge in the third inning.
“I definitely thought about what worked and what didn’t and tried to stay away from what didn’t work. Had to start locating the off-speed pitches more and not maintaining the fast ball location because that’ll get hit around,” said Hagan. “I think the off-speed pitches today were a lot better.”
Kantola, who was in a similar spot last Sunday with the Portland Pickles, settled in Sunday in relief. His three innings yielded four strikeouts and allowed four hits, identical to Hagan’s hit total, but the GreyWolves managed to string them together to gather the lead entering the bottom of the eighth inning. Making the game 4-2 in favor of the Gresham Crew.
But slowly in the bottom half of the eighth, the Gherkins took advance of a bases-juiced situation to regain the lead 5-4 thanks in part to a Hit by Pitch and an error that scored two.
Kantola handed the reigns to Rumbaugh in the top half of the ninth inning. The Celtic-grad and Chemeketa-pitcher was on par with his arsenal of pitches, turning a strikeout-fly out-strikeout inning to pick up the save in the win.
“Today I felt like I brought my stuff today,” Rumbaugh said. “I was in a rhythm, I felt good. Off-speed was working. Change-up was working, curveball was working, cutter was working. Everything was working. My location was on. I came in and did my job.”
Even though the trio of pitchers threw a combined 166 pitches Sunday afternoon, the three pitchers hit the strikeout-zone nearly 60-percent of the time in the win as the squad plays the Pickles Tuesday night at North Marion High School.
“We saw early that they weren’t going to hit a lot of off-speed stuff and I think we really manipulated the at-bats early with them. Using fastballs in certain situations to get them off-balanced and then back to the off-speed pitches I think was the best way for us today,” said Hagan.