By Jeremy McDonald
INDEPENDENCE, Ore.– After a lull in Wednesday’s 2-1, nine-inning victory in Scio, the bats of Withnell slowly came back around Thursday when they traveled to Central High School for a twin-bill with the Post 20 Dirtbags. Taking both games 9-3 and 6-3 respectively with their bats accounting for 21 hits in the two games after being outhit by the Dirtbags seven-to-five the day before.
“It definitely gave us more confidence and it gave our pitchers more confidence. It made it a little more stress-free on the diamond. Coming off of Spokane, we had it. The little lull yesterday, I wasn’t too worried today, I knew we were going to come in hot,” the Dodgers Chris Rogers said.
It was the little things defensively for Post 20 that allowed Withnell to pick up momentum along the way in the series. A few plays here and there would have allowed the Dirtbags to possibly steal a game or two in the series with the Dodgers picking up their first Area-3 Sweep of the season to improve to 7-2 in league play.
“The middle (game) they did a pretty good job hitting the ball and they took off with it, but the first and third one we had taken ourselves out of it. We had plenty of plays that we could’ve gotten out of an inning, but just errors that led to a couple of extra runs and they just built on that,” Post 20’s Jeremiah Pinkerton said.”They were really good at building upon it and taking advantage of our mistakes and that’s something we need to learn.
“Earlier in the season we were really crisp on defense and we need to get back to that. Our defense is going to be the thing that’s going to help us out the most. Pitching is already pretty good, we don’t have a ton of guys that are going to strike out ten-to-twelve batters in a game, they rely on their defense. And when our defense is picking them up, we work really well and we’ve seen it before.”
Pinkerton, from West Salem, hit two home runs in the series, both solo home runs, with Post 20 (10-8, 2-4 Area-3) traveling to Roosevelt High School Saturday for a twin bill against the Portland Eastside. before their Area-3 series with the Mid-Coast Dungies.
For Withnell, it was a nice ebb-and-flow between their defense and offense Thursday that resembled that of their performance in Spokane over the Fourth of July weekend. Strong bats, strong pitching and strong defense. Grant Strother (Sprague) struck out ten in six innings while current Chemeketa pitcher and South Salem-grad Tyler Minney struck out eight in six innings himself with the Dodgers heading to play Roseburg, Medford and Klamath Falls the next three days.
“I think in Spokane, we all got hot with the bats and so it was good to keep that going through these games and hopefully it’ll carry through the playoffs,” Minney said. “Our defense did really well today and it made pitching so much easier so I can attack the zone. If they can put it in play, my defense has my back.”
McMinnville’s Braeden Woods drove in 3RBI’s for the Dirtbags and Central-grad Brandon Komes struck out five in four-an-athird-innings pitching.
Sprague’s Brandon Stinnent and South Salem’s Cole Weiland each drove in 2RBI’s in the doubleheader. Rogers and Sprague’s Will Hassoun each had a team-high four hits.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald