By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Blanchet Catholic Head Coach David Winstead called time and walked to the mound.
The Cavaliers were one out away from advancing to the Elite 8 of the 2A/1A postseason, but were hanging onto a 3-0 lead on a scrappy Grant Union/Prairie City squad Wednesday afternoon. And the talk was simple to his pitcher and the defensive infield, stay calm and finish the job. They came this far, just finish it.
“He was like, ‘take a deep breath and go after it. Get the last out and move on to Friday’,” Blanchet’s Carson McNally said.
McNally and the Prospectors Sheldon Lenz went the distance on the hill for their respective squads. Lenz had finished up his final inning, striking out three. His defense not backing down to the third-seed in Blanchet, having the game at 1-0 entering the bottom of the fifth inning. The run came all the way in the first inning off a Tyson Smith sacrifice hit until the Cavs broke through the bottom of the fifth inning with a sacrifice fly by Landon Gerig and Mitch Wort single to push the lead to 3-0 going into the sixth inning.
Losing one senior in Riddick Hutchison from their 19-6 squad, a squad that won 11 of their last 12 entering Wednesday’s game, this second round game showed Grant Union/Prairie City where they are at returning next Spring as their confidence is riding high into the off-season.
“Infield-outfield was a little rough but we knew what Blanchet had and we were ready. We were prepared, coaches prepared us all season for this,” Lenz said. “We’ll be back next year. For sure. I think everyone’s pretty happy about it. Everyone had us losing by ten at least and we came out here and showed them what we had, that’s all you can do.”
McNally settled back down on the hill after Trevor Gabbard reached first off an error. Charley Knowles took the sophomore deep into the count, filling it up 3-2 with two outs before McNally forced Knowles to fly-out to close out the game and set up a Friday match-up with Reedsport.
“It was a great win, any win that’s a close game and you pull it our is great. We played great defensively . Our offense wasn’t great, but it delivered when it had to,” starts McNally, who threw a complete game one-hitter with 11-strikeouts. “Our defense and pitching can keep up doing this and our offense comes to life like it’s been all season, we’ll be fine. We’ll be in good shape.”
Drew Bartels led the Cavs offense with two hits. Weston Suchorksi had the lone hit for the Prospectors.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald