By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.— Sprague’s Jackson Muth was given a golden opportunity to be one of the main arms out of the bullpen for the Olympians as a sophomore.
That year saw Sprague finish second in the Mountain Valley Conference, a game ahead of Bend while handing rival South Salem one of their two league losses that year. The Olys reached the 6A second-round before falling to Roseburg 5-2.
Muth was open about his struggles, admitting that he struggled and at times his confidence was ‘iffy’ out pitching. But overall he knew it was a big learning experience for him moving into what would have been his Junior season with Sprague.
Playing against the Saxons, the Bend’s and the West Salem’s were challenging, presenting challenges for him. But it was all a part of the progression.
“My sophomore year was huge for me. I blew a few saves here and there but I also had some very good outings against some really good teams,” Muth said. “The biggest thing I learned that year was that if you have the right mentality about pitching no one can beat you and that was a really key part of my development having a lot of confidence makes me feel a lot better on the mound.
“Those innings that year were huge for me to know that the coaching staff and team believed in me and what I could do for the better of the team.”
Over the summer before his Junior season, he played with the Portland Baseball Club 18U, there was a lull or two but slowly learned how to be a pitcher and not a thrower. Something that helped him develop coming into the start of the Spring season.
Unfortunately, just a few days before what would have been the first game of the year for the Olympians, quarantine happened. Coronavirus had shut down, and eventually canceled the season. But, it was during those few weeks as well for him to build from, working with his catchers and Dave Wong for when the Olys took to the field this past Summer.
For Muth, he’s been working with Wong since he was nine. Muth pointed out that Wong had taught him ‘just about everything I know about the game and pitching’. Mix in Coach Luke Buccheit’s belief in his ability and in him. Coach James Mensing installing into his nogging to just go after the batter and attack made him confident going into Summer Ball.
“During quarantine I felt like I made huge strides with the help of my catchers and Dave Wong and this summer my confidence was really high. And I think that the big strides I’ve taken have also been due to Coach Buch’s and Coach Mensing’s belief in my abilities,” Muth said. “Being one of the younger guys on varsity last year it was also good to learn and watch from older guys what it meant to be a leader and what a leader looks like.”
Over the Summer Sprague, playing as the Olympian Baseball Club, played in the Willamette Valley Baseball Men’s League 16-and-over league. Playing against the American Legion Stayton Bandits, Valley Baseball Club, Central’s ‘Central Baseball Club and West Salem High School’s ‘Titan Baseball Club’ in a Round-Robin-style league.
Only a handful of fans were allowed inside the fence area of the Holland Baseball Fields, with many others along the fence line watching the teams play. It was the last chance that guys like Muth, the Rogers brothers, Brock McMullen and Brett Hassoun could’ve played with one another before the Seniors left.
It felt like the movie The Sandlot almost with Sprague playing in a tournament at Volcanoes Stadium at the end of the summer, but they all felt like they had something to prove after their Spring was taken away.
It was awesome…when we heard we were going get a chance to play together for one last summer we were all pretty excited,” Muth said. “Our record may have not been great but I think we had fun doing it and I think for the older guys it was good for them to get to put on the Sprague jersey one more time and represent a great program
“It was. It’s for sure a summer and season I’m going remember for the rest of my life. It was just having fun and playing a game we all love and it was awesome how competitive the league was.”
Muth’s dad introduced the game to him when he was young, his mom being his number-one fan through it all. Muth played with his younger brother over the Fall as his dad coached the Sprague team in the SBA Oregon Fall League, knowing how much his whole family and friends had supported him to this point entering what lies next for Muth in College Baseball.
Muth verbally committed to Linn-Benton over the Summer, but recently signed Tuesday. Making him the third Oly in recent years to join the Roadrunner program, joining Max Long and Michael Soper to have worn the jersey.
“That’s a great program with a lot of history and great players. It’s really important for me to just keep working hard so that when I do get there I’ll be ready to compete and get after it with those guys,” Muth said. “It’s a very competitive conference year in and year out and there’s solid players on every team. I’m really excited to get out there and play against those guys and show I belong there.
“With me being locked up with Linn-Benton I think a big thing for me is just keep getting better and having fun playing the game. A really big part of development as a player has been the weight room. Jake Forshey had really helped me get to where I am too. He pushes me every day and I can’t thank him and Chris enough for their support and help this last year.”
The Roadrunners went 31-11 in the 2018-2019 season, reaching the NWAC Baseball Championships and were on a 6-2 start before the cancelation of their season back in March.