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High-scoring Banks runs win streak to five games

Braves jump all over Tillamook for a pair of league victories

The Banks baseball team has been on quite the hot streak lately.

As in, over their last four games, the Braves have outscored their opponents by an eye-popping 48-1 margin.

Not surprisingly, Banks won all four contests during that span. The team entered this week having prevailed in six of its seven most recent games to improve to 8-3 overall.NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES
 - Banks' Hayden Vandehey slides into home plate while Tillamook pitcher Simon Elinsky applies a tag during last Thursday's Cowapa League baseball game.

That streak included 18-1 and 15-0 drubbings of Tillamook last week for the Braves’ first two games in Cowapa League play.

After thrashing the Cheesemakers on the road last Tuesday, Banks returned home Thursday and jumped out to an 8-0 lead after one inning. The Braves chased Tillamook starting pitcher Erik Reeve after just one out had been recorded. Banks led 7-0 at that point. In all, the Braves went up to bat 14 times during the half-inning, which took more than 20 minutes to play. Casey McGough, Jake Evans (two) and Justin Bral all recorded RBIs during the frame.

Banks added two runs in the second, another in the third and four more in the fourth to put the 10-run rule into effect. Hayden Vandehey, Kylan Taylor and Logan St. Marie all provided RBI base knocks during that span.

With Dalton Renne putting together a solid effort on the mound for the hosts, Tillamook (2-10, 0-2) rarely threatened on offense. The sophomore allowed just two hits and struck out five in a five-inning, complete-game shutout, Banks’ fourth shutout of the season.

Renne put together a similar effort with similar results on April 1 to help the Braves beat former league rival Yamhill-Carlton 12-0.

“It was nice, I guess, short,” Renne said after Thursday’s performance. “Friday at Y-C I only pitched five innings. It keeps my arm in good shape so I don’t have to throw much, so I can throw more later in the season.”

The sophomore pitcher offered some appreciation for how lively his team’s bats have been lately, as the Braves playing from the front takes pressure off the pitcher, he said.

Banks has been getting the job done so far with an interesting and unusual mix of youth and veteran experience. Just three seniors are listed on the roster, so the team is still on the young side. Yet every player from last season returned and some freshmen have been finding playing time as well. Two of them, Vandehey and Dakota Bunn, were in the hitting lineup on Thursday.

“It’s nice to know that everyone’s here to play ball,” said senior outfielder Donny McClean, who was hit three times by Tillamook pitchers to reach base. “We have three seniors, and they all play, and we have everybody starting from freshmen to seniors.”

Sophomore infielder Gunnar Partain said that, having returned everyone, the team is stronger this year and the players have bonded more. A spring break trip to a tournament in Boise, Idaho, also helped with team chemistry.

“It gave us a way to come together as a unit more, because it was good baseball down there,” Partain said. “We just brought it back here and it’s shown.”

It certainly has, as the Braves ran their win streak to five heading into this week with a two-game showdown against reigning state champ Scappoose on the docket. The home-and-away series pits two teams in the top 10 of the OSAA’s Class 4A power rankings.

Results of Tuesday’s game in Banks were unavailable at press deadline. Thursday’s game at Scappoose (8-2, 1-1) is scheduled for 5 p.m. The Braves return home for a nonleague contest against Class 5A program Liberty on Friday.