By Jeremy McDonald
KEIZER, Ore.– It took until the fourth game of the season, but the Blanchet Catholic baseball team finally was put to the test when they wrapped up the Volcanoes Stadium Tournament Sunday afternoon when they played Taft.
The result, 11-2, was a far cry from how the game came to be in the six-inning contest. Entering the bottom half of the sixth inning where the Cavaliers scored eight runs, Blanchet held a 3-2 lead with the Tigers on their heels following their two-run top half of the sixth inning.
“We got some competition and got some work, but we pulled away and I saw some great things from us tonight,” Luke Holland said. “This game is going to start our momentum as a team shooting forward.”
Entering this game, the Cavs had outscored their opposition 75-4 with their closest game until Sunday being a 21-2 win over Amity on Friday. But this game challenged Blanchet mentally to stay with it as they scored an early run in the first inning off a Sam Schindler single.
Carson McNally and his defense were challenged to bend, but not break as the freshman arm held Taft hitless until the fifth inning when Juan Hernandez singled to lead off the inning.
“It was good, it was a battle for us, and we stayed with it,” McNally said. “It felt good to have a competitive game and come out on top.”
“We played really well out there. We were stringing good AB’s together at the beginning of the game, but we just couldn’t hit with guys in scoring position and in the last inning we just exploded. It was a great inning,” adds Drew Bartels.
McNally pitched five-and-two-third innings, striking out eight to pace the Cavailer defense.
But with one out on the board, starting with Riley Pratt’s walk, momentum began to swing in favor of Blanchet.
Tyler Millican and Bartels singled to load the bases. Then the next four at-bats, Schindler, Hunter Archer, Holland, and Spencer Kowalski were responsible for five runs coming in. Schindler with a walk, then singles by Archer, Holland and Kowalski that brought in four runs before the next Cavs out came.
An error scored Kowalski before Pratt singled that brought two more runs that had help cap an eight-run inning. Up against the time-limit, Taft couldn’t respond to see if they could duplicate their sixth inning success into the seventh.
“This…that was showing us that we’re a better team and it gave us a lot of energy. Guys were going up with confidence and we kept stringing them together,” Bartels said. “Just stay mentally sharp and prepare to be competitive.
“We stayed focused (Sunday) and we were grinding. Riley with the nice one-pitch save there, that was really clutch for him there. But yeah, we played well there.”
Pratt came in for relief for McNally and got Armondo Jajardo to ground out to end the sixth inning. Offensively, Holland led Blanchet with 3RBI’s, Kowalski, Pratt and Schindler each had 2RBI’s each. Kowalski led the Cavs with three hits as the Blanchet offense finished with 13 with Molalla coming to town on March 29.
Hernandez led the Tigers with two hits as him and Baron Delameter each had an RBI for Taft, who will be at the Newport tournament Wednesday when they play Marshfield.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald