Michael Duggan's solo homer lifts Apollos past Beavers in series opener
BEAVERTON - One pitch, one swing, one run made all the difference to Sunset's baseball team last Thursday at Beaverton High School.
The pitch was a fastball thrown by Beaverton senior Ryan Larson in the top of the sixth inning. The swing came courtesy of Sunset's No. 9 hitter, junior right fielder Michael Duggan. And the result - a solo homer over the left field fence - provided the game-winning run in the Apollos' 2-0 victory over the Beavers in their series opener.
The Apollos dropped the second game of the series 8-2 to the Beavers at Sunset High School, then came back Saturday to win 6-3 at Beaverton to take two of three and move into a third-place Metro League tie with the Beavers at 5-4.
'It's a game of inches,' said Sunset coach Brian Sullivan, who's trying to get the Apollos back into the state playoffs in his first year as head coach. 'The game could have gone either way, and then my number nine hitter comes up and hits a home run and puts the pressure on them.'
'I think our defense played really well today,' said Duggan, who struck out in his two other plate appearances last Thursday. 'We were really on top of our game today.'
The Beavers, who entered their three-game series with
Sunset with a one-game lead over the Apollos, left determined to put the Thursday loss behind them.
'It's like I told our guys, 'Today, we beat ourselves. The game beat us,'' said Beaverton coach Matt Smith. 'We just didn't execute the things we needed to do, and in a close ballgame when both pitchers are throwing well, you have to execute to win and that's what they did. The good thing is there's always another day.'
'It was a tough game,' said Larson, who limited Sunset to four hits, walked one and struck out 10. 'We've got to start swinging the bats because if you don't score, you don't win. We've just got to put more balls in play and start hitting a little better.'
Most of the game was marked by an impressive pitchers' duel between Larson, a returning first-team all-leaguer, and Sunset junior R.J. Hoffman. Hoffman finished his day in equally impressive fashion as Larson, shutting out the Beavers on four hits and no walks while striking out three.
'I just go out and do my thing,' Hoffman said. 'I didn't have too many strikeouts, so I just let them put it in play because we have a good defense. Whenever someone got on, it always seemed like we picked it up with a double play or something so it was nice.'
'He's been doing that all year for us, hitting spots, getting ahead of hitters, using his defense and he's had a great year so far, beat a lot of good
teams,' Sullivan said.
Larson was perfect for three innings last week, not allowing a hit or a baserunner until Ryan Kroon singled to right field with one out in the fourth inning. Kroon took second on an error and third on a wild pitch, but Larson bore down there and
struck out both Dan Manus and Kyle Chamberlain to end the threat.
Beaverton's best scoring opportunities came in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, but all went for naught. In the fourth, Cal Nagy doubled into left field with one out, but was tagged out near second base when the next hitter, Marcus Himelhoch, grounded to third. In the fifth, Jordan Severson singled through the left side with one out, but was erased immediately when Mark Hernandez grounded into a double play. And in the sixth, Nate Woodbury led off with a single to right field, but was thrown out at second by Sunset catcher Chamberlain when Larson failed to connect on a hit and run.
'We didn't make the adjustments we needed to make and we made a couple baserunning mistakes that I thought hurt us,' Smith said.
Sunset, with just two hits and two baserunners through five innings finally broke through in the sixth. There, Duggan opened the frame with a line drive homer over the left field fence that proved to be the difference in the game.
'It was just right at the plate and I decided to swing and it paid off,' Duggan said of his first home run of the season.
'I made one mistake to Duggan and left it up,' Larson said. 'For the most part, I felt good, felt I could locate and throw pitches for strikes, all three of them.'
Sunset came back with its final run in the top of the seventh, with Nick Olney getting a two-out single to right field and pinch runner Ty Harper coming home two batters later when Beaverton dropped Wyatt Poland's liner to left field. Hoffman then set the Beavers down in order in the bottom of the seventh to seal the win.
Beaverton's Carl Beckert had his team's other hit.
In upcoming games, all at 4:30 p.m., Beaverton is at Southridge Friday, at Aloha Tuesday and hosts Aloha on Wednesday. Sunset hosts Aloha on Friday, plays at Westview Tuesday and hosts Westview on Wednesday.