By Jeremy McDonald
AURORA, Ore.—This was probably one of the premier games of the day, week and perhaps the year that happened Saturday afternoon.
North Marion and Kennedy baseball. Powerhouse in 4A and Powerhouse in 2A/1A. Together. On the ionic field at Bob Brack Field at North Marion High School.
The 2-1 ball game was totally different for the Trojans who were going five, maybe a sixth inning with teams up to this point. But when the Huskies presented them the challenge they were both looking for, Kennedy matched their North Marion counterparts.
“Kennedy really brought it today. They’re definitely the toughest team we’ve seen all year,” said the Huskies Evan Holman. “It’s always fun playing against close games, I think it’s good for us because we’ll learn from our mistakes and we’ll realize that we need to be focused for every game.”
It did take some time however. Call it nerves, but when North Marion’s Rex De’Angeles picked up a triple that led to Evan Holman driving him home for the first run of the game in the first run of the game, it caught the Trojans off-guard.
It was the first time they’ve trailed all year as the battle tested Huskie squad with Hunter Hansen on the bump, quieting Kennedy opportunities on the bump. North Marion was riding a high coming off their 11-0 victory over Philomath/Alsea.
The Huskies however, couldn’t add to their lead following Holman’s RBI hit as Dylan and Ethan Kleinschmit helped pace the defensive against North Marion as Hansen, Avery Coulombe and Cole Boughal had against the Trojans.
“When we go three-out in the first inning and their lead-off gets a triple, I didn’t know it’ll look so good. But we figured it out, kept it going,” said Ethan Kleinschmit. “It was good. We finally caught up to the pitcher finally. Dylan started pitching better and didn’t give up any more runs.
Kennedy tied the game up at one in the fourth off a Andrew Cuff double. Both teams had runners on base over the course of the next inning or two, no luck.
Intensity build. Defensive plays like Camyrn Biegel’s catching a laser and tagging third for a double play to end a fourth inning bases-loaded-threat for North Marion. The Huskies Peyton Meyers nearly duplicated the same feat at first in the fifth to cheers from teammates and fans alike for making plays.
“It’s high-energy the whole time. Everyone is usually in it. It’s fun. It’s more fun than blowing out a team or getting blown out, it’s high-intensity. It’s fun,” Meyers said.
Then. The dagger. Top of the seventh with two outs.
Biegel sent a laser to third. The Huskies got the tip of a glove in to make the play to no avail as Owen Bruner rounded third for the go-ahead run as the Trojans took their first lead of the game going into the bottom of the seventh.
“Just going up a score really felt nice. I mean it took a lot of pressure off of our backs and it allowed us to have some breathing room so we can play our baseball again,” said Biegel. “Ethan did a great job being able to shut them down that last inning.
That last inning saw Kleinschmit get the first two outs in a hurry. Then he fell behind 3-1 in the count to Will Van Vleke.
“I don’t know, it was pretty crazy. I just had to get ahead in the accounts and then get them to pop out like we did,” Kleinschmit said of the seventh.
Kleinschmit managed to get even in the count at 3-2 with pressure mounting between the two sophomore athlete’s. Depending on the side you’re on, it was a crummy way to end the game or it was a positive way to end it. Van Vleke got the ball into play and the Trojans adjusted to it for the final out of the game with Kennedy snapping North Marion’s nine-game winning streak with there’s standing at eight.
Both teams, taking lessons into Salem Academy for the Trojans and Molalla next for the Huskies with both teams looking to build from Saturday’s game.
“We can’t just pucker up and say ‘Oh they’re a 4A team. They’re going to hit the ball over the fence, or they’re going to line-drives’. They’re also a baseball team and that’s the thing about baseball, it all depends on how the ball lands,” Biegel said. “We played as a team.”
“We can come back by bouncing in more energy. More intensity and being more focused because we lost focus after having a doubleheader, it’s hard to stay focused for four-straight hours. But we need to stay focused if we want to win,” Meyers adds.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald