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Youthful Docs team keeps on winning

With just one '06 senior in the lineup, Dr. Barney is on a big-time streak
by: MILES VANCE, REASON FOR HOPE – Dr. Barney pitcher Austin Hope gave his team six strong innings in its game two victory over Benson on Monday.

BEAVERTON - Sometimes a team just needs a little hot weather to start cooking.

That seems to be the case with the Dr. Barney's AAA American Legion baseball team anyway.

Dr. Barney's, the summer affiliate of Southridge High School, raced to its 17th straight victory on Monday, rolling past Benson's AAA team 9-4 at Southridge behind the efforts of starting pitcher Austin Hope and a 10-hit offensive attack paced by Jack Brock and Mitch Edwards.

After a disappointing fifth-place finish in the tough Metro League this spring, Dr. Barney's players are just relaxing and having fun in their second season.

'Our team is really relaxed and we play a lot more games, so we're getting a lot more cuts and more at-bats and I think that's really helped,' said Brock, who went 3-for-3 with a homer, two runs and two RBIs against Benson. 'We just want to develop and have fun; that's what summer baseball's all about.'

'We've been hitting the ball at clutch times, we've been playing very good defense and our pitching's been very good,' said Dr. Barney's coach Don Fitzgerald, whose team is 12-1 in league play and 22-3 overall. 'It hasn't been dominant at all, but it's always (keeping us) in the games and we can always win.'

Early on, it looked like Benson might have the right stuff to end Dr. Barney's winning streak on Monday. Dr. Barney opened the day with a morning win at the Lakeridge tournament, then whacked Benson 11-4 in the opener of its afternoon/evening doubleheader.

But Benson broke on top with two runs in the top of the first against Hope (five innings, seven hits, two walks and six strikeouts), getting a sacrifice fly from Nick Brown to plate Michael Mehrens and an RBI single to knock in Cody Curtain.

Hope settled down after that, however, allowing just four hits and two runs (one earned) in his final four innings, and that gave Dr. Barney's offense plenty of chances to get rolling.

In the bottom of the first, Trent Oleszczuk walked and scored his team's first run on an error, Brock knocked in another with a single, a third came home on another Benson miscue and a fourth on a grounder by Andrew Keller to make it 4-2.

Dr. Barney's quickly doubled that total with four more runs in the bottom of the second, this time getting an RBI single from Edwards to score Oleszczuk, a two-run homer from Kevin Coleman and a solo shot by Brock to make it 8-2.

'At the beginning of the season, we really tried to keep our hands back and that's been helping us a lot,' said Edwards, who went 2-for-3, scored twice and drove in one. 'We've been hitting the ball a lot better.'

'At the beginning of the season, we struggled hitting, but now our hitting is starting to click,' Brock added. 'We're just hitting the ball a lot better and we're getting a lot more hits than we were earlier.'

Benson tried to come back with single runs in the second and seventh innings, getting an RBI ground ball from Mehrens in the second and another run-scoring grounder from Jake Lutton off reliever Jack Brown in the seventh, but it was too little, too late.

'The kids are playing well and we can beat a lot of teams when we play well,' Fitzgerald said.

While Brock and Edwards were the only Dr. Barney's players with multiple hits, Oleszczuk scored twice and Coleman drove in two. Jordan Rogers led Benson with two hits.