By Jeremy McDonald
ROSEBURG, Ore.– Salem Academy’s Brandon Reed showcased his pitching ability Monday afternoon in the Withnell Dodger season-closing defeat to the Portland Barbers at Champion Car Wash Field.
After a less-than-ideal first inning that saw the Barbers plate two quick runs in their 6-2 victory, Reed settled in and found his zone on the hill. Known for his catching and bat this Summer, Reed hit the zone and let his defense work behind him as the Dodgers turned three-straight shutout innings with their offense slowly coming around.
“It was a big deal; it was tough for us, especially them putting up a two-spot in the first inning. But I had to settle down the nerves, stop worrying about other things, do our jobs,” Reed starts, as he struck out three in four innings. “Then we started to come back a little bit, tying it up and we just needed to settle down and keep doing our jobs.
“We had to have the same mentality as we did after the first inning, keep chipping away and doing our jobs. We didn’t come out with the ‘W’ today, it’s tough but we can hang our hats on that we were going 100-percent every single play.”
Withnell had a chance in the fourth inning to break a then 2-0 score with runners on the corners, but a stealing second out and a strikeout ended the threat before eventually knotting it up in the top half of the fifth inning.
Similar to the fifth, they got runners on base with one out with Eli Lowe and Will Hassoun on third and first respectively. Lowe, who went 3-for-9 in the tournament, took home from third on an outfield error on Grant Strother’s left field fly-ball.
Hassoun was called out on the play, but Strother would eventually score on an error himself three batters later as the young, scrappy Dodgers knotted up the game at two.
In Legion Ball, you can have up to a college freshman on your roster being 19U. For Withnell however, there were no college kids on the team this year as the Class of 2021 was the oldest on the team.
“It kind of blows my mind how young we were. Most guys are going into their Junior year and knowing the potential that we have, we placed sixth which isn’t something to hang your head about,” Sprague’s Chris Rogers said. “There’s more baseball to play, more reps to take and I’m excited to see what the future holds.”
Ten of their 17 players are incoming Juniors or Seniors for this upcoming season. Six of which are going to be Juniors this season as the Area-2 Champions in the Barbers separated themselves with the Dodgers in the fifth-inning thanks to a four-run inning.
Withnell couldn’t duplicate their success from the fourth and fifth innings as they saw their season draw to a close with a sixth-place finish in State.
For Rogers, who was one of the spark-plugs along with Lowe, Reed and Rylan Webster this season from Western Christian, it was the connections he built with his six other Olympian teammates over this Summer entering this next Spring.
“The biggest thing for us is the connection that we built with one another, we played with each other every day for the past two months now and I think it’s going to reflect coming into the Spring. I feel like we can have a good playoff run if we can figure out the little things,” Rogers said.
Taylor Brenneman, Will Hassoun, Brandon Stinnett and Rogers all had a hit in the defeat.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald