By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.—Regis’ Max Eaton had his hands cut out for him to close out the three-game series with Monroe Friday evening at Stayton High School.
After having to move over after their first game due to the incoming weather, Stayton having an turf infield, the sophomore was tapped to go up against a squad that hadn’t lost a conference game since May 11, 2018 to Oakridge. A 40-game league winning streak entering the finale.
“They’re a very strong team both offensively and defensively. It just takes that mental side of the game where you just need to bear down and take it once pitch at a time,” Eaton said. “Have short-term memory and just keep shoving.”
The Rams were right there in their 4-0 defeat to the Dragons in Game 1 of the doubleheader that handed the series to Monroe yes, but after their slow start Regis began to show what they’re able to do. Finishing Game 1 strongly and carried that over to Game 2.
Despite surrendering a fourth inning run, a Trent Bateman single with two outs, Eaton re-grouped and got Brody Ballard to pop out to end the inning.
“Our offense has been producing runs all season and that I had confidence in my team at the end to shake it,” said Eaton.
The bats were in a slump against Monroe coming off their previous few games against Lowell and Oakridge. But something just clicked for the Rams.
With one out on the board. Tanner Manning ripped a double and was later driven home from Mason Koenig to tie the game at one.
For Luke Castillo, yes, his two-run home run was the sigh of relief Regis needed two batters following the tying hit, but it was Koenig’s hit that really set in motion in their 3-1 win.
“Just getting that one run tying it up was probably one of the more important things. But getting that shot and getting two more runs, it just really solidified the game for us,” Castillo said. “We were all pretty relieved after that.”
“It’s amazing. Seeing some of the guys coming out of slumps and coming up big time when it counts when you need it. I think that’s the big thing about this time is there’s always a fight and there’s always a fire and we’re never giving up,” Eaton adds. “If there’s a when, we’ll find a how.”
Rams found that how as they picked up two quick outs in the top half of the seventh before Spencer Ross extended the game with a single. The two-out rally was short-lived with Eaton forcing a fly out to Kollin Schumacher to end the game. Ending the Monroe winning streak in league to 40.
Eaton went seven innings with six strikeouts in Game 2 of the doubleheader. Tanner Manning struck out 12 in five innings in Game 1 with Bateman striking out seven in a complete game effort for Monroe.
Bateman went 3-for-8 with 2RBI’s as well for the Dragons with Ballard collecting three hits and an RBI for Monroe who has Lowell on Wednesday. Regis host East Linn Christian on Tuesday.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald