By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– One does not beat Kennedy easily. But Western Christian found a way to get it done against the Trojans Wednesday afternoon, handing Kennedy their first league loss since May 4, 2018 when the Trojans fell to St. Paul 9-0.
The Pioneers had to out-Kennedy Kennedy, a tall-task but they found a way. Outfield made plays, infield played cleanly behind Miliano Camarena. Owen Stalnaker returned to behind the dish, his native-position before taking to the infield and pitching in High School as the recently-graduated Rylan Webster anchored the catcher position the past few years.
“It was great, we had a great catcher last year in Rylan and we miss him by all means. But I mean next man up and we didn’t have a lot of catchers, so it feels really good and (Webster) taught me a lot of things he knows. It feels pretty good,” Stalnaker said of catching.
“I don’t know if we had a single error today and our outfield, Lucas Zook, Riley (Mahoney) had a lot of ground balls. Declan (Wark) had a lot of good ground balls at third. They were solid. Declan and Milano, they were hot on the bats. It feels great.”
Wark was 2-for-3 hitting and Camarena owned two of the Pios three team RBI’s in the win. Two other runs came off errors in the bottom of the third and fifth to help Western build a 5-2 lead going into the sixth inning.
It was the routine plays that hurt Kennedy while it benefited the Pios who took full advantage of them. Something that Trojan Head Coach Kevin Moffat tipped his hat off too.
A perfect storm that went against Kennedy. Three unorthodox errors and their plate approach was a tad passive despite having ten hits in the game.
“Give all the credit to them, they made all the routine plays and they deserve to win. Something was a little bit off, our approaches at the plate. We seemed a little passive at times, we weren’t quite on and tip our hats to them and they kept us off balanced,” Kennedy head Coach Kevin Moffat. “(Camarena) kept us off balance and he did it to us last year too. We knew it was coming, but we didn’t compete very well at the plate.”
Camarena went six innings with one strikeout before handing the reigns over to Stanalker going into the seventh following a two-run sixth inning that had the Trojans thinking comeback.
“It was huge. Our outfield were making plays on those fly-balls. Even with those ground balls…they’re great hitters. Nine-times-out-of-ten they’ll out-hit us,” smiles Camarena. “But today we showed up.”
Stanalker forces a ground-ball before striking out the next two batters to close out the save opportunity and the 5-4 win to snap Kennedy’s 37 game winning streak in league play.
But now they’ll have to do it again and again Friday when the two teams meet up in Mount Angel for a doubleheader.
“It’s the goal, keep the same energy and go at them. Don’t be intimated or anything. We showed that we can stick with them, so I don’t know why we can’t the next two,” Camarena said.
“We’ll see how they come out. Hopefully they like losing as much as I do and that’s not very much,” laughs Moffat about his team after the loss. “It’ll kind of get them going a little bit.”
Andrew Cuff led the Trojans with 2-for-4 hitting with 2RBI’s. Riley Cantu was 2-for-4 hitting with six strikeouts in four innings pitching.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald