Southridge sweeps Aloha and sweeps into first place with a 5-1 Metro League record
ALOHA - Oh what a difference a year makes.
The Southridge baseball team knows that as well as anyone -- after sweeping past Aloha and winning their third straight game, the Skyhawks improved to 5-1 in Metro League play a year after opening the 2007 Metro campaign at 1-5.
'Last year, they swept us and we started the season 1-5 and now we're 5-1 so it's a pretty nice turnaround,' said Southridge senior catcher Jack Brock, who went 2-for-3 at the plate - including his team's first home run of the season - with four RBIs in the Skyhawks' 9-0 win last Thursday at Aloha High School.
'We're just giving ourselves something to work with because we definitely want to win Metro. That's definitely our goal.'
'The bottom line is we finally hit the ball for some RBIs. We've been struggling all year for that,' said Southridge coach Don Fitzgerald. 'I think we're going to be tough if we can just keep positive and just keep the hits going.'
Aloha, meanwhile, dropped to 0-6 in league play, but left determined to keep hope alive and play better.
'The past couple of games, it's just been a few things here and there and it's a different ballgame,' said Aloha senior catcher Ben Kittleson, who went 2-for-3 at the plate to pace his team. 'We've just got to refocus and get our act together and we can turn this thing around easy.'
'We have three days of practice coming up and we're going to change some things in practice and we should be a different team next week,' added Aloha coach Matt Bailie. 'Nothing says we can't turn it around and play our next nine league games strong and still get a playoff spot if things work out.'
The Skyhawks, who also beat Aloha 5-0 in the first game of their doubleheader behind Mitch
Edwards' 12-strikeout, three-hitter, opened their second game with one run in the top of the first inning, tacked on three more in the third and then four in the fourth to pull away.
Mitch Mathews opened the game with a double to deep center and scored an unearned run three batters later on Brock's sacrifice fly. In the third, Mitch Wise walked, Alex Hope singled and Brock knocked in Wise with a single to right field. Alex Brown brought home Hope with a sacrifice fly to right field, and Austin Hope then made it 4-0 when he doubled to center to plate Brock.
The Skyhawks were back at it in the fourth too. Brett Myers walked to get things started, Mathews followed with a one-out single, and after a Wise bunt, two runs came home on wild pitches and Brock capped the deal with a two-run shot over the left field fence off Aloha starter David Rasmussen.
'Yeah, it was a curveball. That's not usually my strength, but it was nice to hit a home run,' Brock said. 'We need to keep hitting, keep playing hard, keep pitching and we can beat anybody.'
From there, the Skyhawks sat back and let Wise - who went six innings, allowed two hits, no walks and struck out two - and the Southridge defense do the rest.
'My curveball was working good. I was just trying to mix it up a bit,' Wise said. I just tried to 'pitch to the spots, and if they ground out, great.'
Aloha's best scoring chances came in the first, fifth and seventh innings. In the first, Nate Dolman singled with one out, was forced out by Bryon Clevenger's grounder and Clevenger was then thrown out trying to steal second base to end the threat.
In the fifth, Kittleson singled with one out and moved to second on an error before Wise got Jacob Lish on a fly to center. And in the seventh, Petter Overton-Harris walked with one out, Kittleson singled and Kasey Kroner walked to load the bases on reliever Alex Billette. But Billette bore down and struck out Eric Kittleson and Lish to end the game.
'They came out playing really well the past couple days. We've got to do that next week,' Kittleson said. 'We're definitely not out of it yet. We've just got to get it turned around, refocus and get a couple wins.'
'For these guys, with virtually no varsity experience, just to get that one win would kind of open up the floodgates,' Bailie said. 'If they do get that first win, we'll be a new team.'
For Southridge, Mathews was the only other player besides Brock with multiple hits, going 2-for-3 at the plate.