By Jeremy McDonald
EUGENE, Ore.– The Grant Smith Wood Bat Tournament had an unique way of setting up Championship Sunday for first and second-place. The 4pm game would be for first and third while the 1pm game that the Post 58 Keizer Crushers found themselves in was for second-and-fourth place.
Keizer was coming off a tough 7-0 loss to the Eugene Challengers Saturday night and left no doubt as they quickly scored five first inning runs against the American Legion Post 122 Siskiyou squad from California. The Shasta County team that draws players in from Yreka, Mt. Shasta, Weed and Etna, scored the first run of the game and battled with Cascade’s Caleb Boyles and his defense over the course of the first four innings of the game.
“It helps knowing that you have a great defense and just being able to throw strikes. It helps a lot with confidence in throwing my stuff and letting my defense work for me,” Boyles said.
Boyles and Cougar teammate Lupe Peralta went eight innings in the 12-3 win. Tournament games were slated for nine games with two-and-a-half hour time-limits, or a ten-run mercy rule after seven innings. Boyles and Peralta combined for an eight-strikeout performance. Allowing three runs on five hits.
The bats rallied for 14 hits to aid in the 12-run production, coming in spurts. Scoring five in each of the first and fourth innings and one in each of the fifth and sixth innings to set the pace against their Northern California adversaries.
“It was awesome, I knew they could come to life and come together. We’re starting to feel like more as a team now instead of a bunch of people from all around,” Stayton’s Tanner Manning said. “It was great to see the sticks come to life. Caleb and Lupe were great on the mound, all-and-all, it was great to see all of us come together.”
Manning led the Crushers with 2RBIs. Manning, Boyles, Silverton’s Cole Mucken and Tyler Pfeifer as well as the Eagles Wyatt Connally each had two hits in the game. The small-school based squad will be traveling up to Liberty Tuesday to take on the Barbers.
Similar to the Challengers, who the Crushers held in check outside of one bad inning Saturday in the 7-0 Eugene win, the Barbers were also a playoff team in 2019 with American Legion last having a season in the Triple-A realm. Splitting with the Eugene team last week as now Post 58 looks to build from their 2-1 weekend.
“Yesterday we pitched really well against the Challengers and today we brought the sticks. If we can combine that then we’ll do great against the Barbers on Tuesday,” Boyles said. “It’s nice to see a team that you can strive to be a team like that. Be at that caliber-level like that team.”
“Facing guys like that are only going to make us better. I mean (Eugene) had some great pitchers and some good players, it was good to see some competition there and it helps us get reps for league,” adds Manning.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald