By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– Junction City came out on a mission. Riding on the high of their Play-In win over Sisters, the Tigers took a swipe at Stayton from the opening frame and jumped out to a quick 3-1 lead in their 6-4 victory over the Eagles Wednesday evening. Advancing to the Elite Eight after holding off Stayton’s late game rally to do so.
“It was definitely a huge first inning. We wanted to come out here and jump on them early and we did. That kind of set the tone for the rest of the game, so it was definitely nice to have that nice big first inning,” Junction City’s Chris Ohman.
Ohman went 3-for-4 with 4RBI’s, pacing the Tigers who traded zero’s with the Eagles for the next three innings. The lone difference in the game was the two-run home run that Matthew Prescott hit back in the first inning.
Stayton drew two walks in the third inning and were a big hit from tying the game, but struggled to string together hits going against Micah Rogers to make a run at the lead. Rogers shut the Eagle threat down and held Stayton to a Nick Frith single in the third and a three-up-and-down inning to continue to put pressure on Frith to continue to execute on the bump after his tough first inning.
“It was huge. To have bad inning like that and give up three-runs and shut them out until the fifth, we were pretty happy about that. We’ve had some big plays like (Ty) Borde made a good catch out there (in the outfield),” Frith said. “It was tough, (Rogers) was a thumber-type guy and we just had to adjust. We started to ring it back a little bit in that last inning, but it was a little too late.”
For the Eagles, it wasn’t the ending to the season they wanted. They had high-expectations for a deep playoff run as they saw Junction City push their lead to 6-1 going into the bottom of the seventh. Scoring twice off an Ohman single in the fifth and another off a Ohman single in the seventh.
But slowly, their grit came around. Down to their final three outs, it echoed a little bit of that JBO State Title game against Banks that some of them were on five-years ago as they began to chip away at the lead.
Frith drove a run in off a single, Eli Brown hit a sac-fly that got another run in and Connor Hollenbeck forced an error that resulted in another run as the tying runs were on the basepaths with two outs down 6-4.
It was a frustrating ending to a good game for Junction City as they head south to play Hidden Valley on Friday, but the Tigers are looking ahead to continue their run as they head to Murphy riding a four-game winning streak and winners of five of their last six games.
“We were able to put some (runs) up there throughout those last three innings, which is huge obviously because we had two errors in that last inning and it ended up being 6-4, but those (three) runs were huge,” Ohman said. “We’ve been doubted all season long. Nobody really thought we’ll make the playoffs, no one really thought we would make it past the first round. It’s been just another game for us.”
And it wasn’t where Stayton wanted it to end, but they did go 18-7 overall and finished second in the Oregon West Conference. All while fielding three on the First-team in the league voting with the Pitcher of the Year in Frith, who struck out seven in four innings in his final game in a Stayton uniform.
“It was really fun. It was really fun,” smiles Frith. “It was a good experience with all the guys and I think they’ll do well next year with the juniors.”
Frith went 3-for-3 at the plate as well as Brown drove in 2RBI’s for the Eagles. Rogers struck out three in six innings and Prescott drove in 2RBI’s for the Tigers in the Sweet 16 road match-up.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald