By Jeremy McDonald
TURNER, Ore.– Stayton made the adjustments at the plate when they needed to in order to separate themselves from their rivials in Cascade Thursday afternoon at Cascade High School. Defeating the Cougars 6-2, spoiling the home team’s Senior Day and taking the series two games to one. This coming three days after Cascade stunned the Eagles on this same field 5-2 to start this series on Monday.
They did so at a time when they led Cascade 3-2 going into the fifth inning. The two scored back in the first inning before Stayton’s Connor Choate and the Cougs Jamien Whelden, along with their defenses, settled in for three shutout innings that ensured.
Whelden had been the Cascade ace all season and Head Coach Chris Brown turned to the junior arm to possibly take another series from another tough foe on this day. Hoping to catch their opposition in a hitting slump as they did in the first game of the series back on Monday.
“I feel like it was something I needed to do and I just did it. I didn’t think much of it, someone had to do it. Work them. Be a friend and a coach and not just a teammate,” Whelden described stepping up as a leader. “We just got warmed up and loose, got our heads into the game. The frustrations, we were out of place and not being in the right head-space. At the at-bats, not making us tough outs.”
Cascade had an opportunity to tie things up in the third with Zac Rife at third and another opportunity for a third run in the fifth before a Daniel Odenthal lazer from left field to home saved a run to end the fifth.
Little clutched up plays like those allowed Stayton to feed them into their offense as they trickled runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh to close out the series with the four-run win. And now going into their final two games of the season, Saturday at Philomath to close out the Oregon West Conferenceleague season and Tuesday against The Dalles at home to close out the regular season, the Eagles seem to be getting back on track with back-to-back wins after snapping their four-game skid on Wednesday.
“(Monday) lit a spark, coming out hot. It was Ride-or-Die and our team came ready to play and that’s what we did,” Choate said. “This momentum is going to carry us from here. Just making the plays, everyone believing in each other and getting it done. We’re there, we just got to keep playing together and work on it.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald