Play for the next play. That’s pretty much all Sam McCormick asks of his Madras baseball team.

And lately, that’s exactly what the White Buffalos have done.

Madras opened Tri-Valley Conference play Monday with a 7-1 loss at La Salle but look to continue a recent run of solid play.

“Our guys, the past four games, we’ve played great baseball,” McCormick said before Monday's game. “Our goal in a game is two or less errors and we’ve been doing that every day. What wins games is our pitching and our defense and that has really come around.”

That was true of the Buffs’ final nonconference game Friday, a 3-0 win over Mountain View. Devon Wolfe and Alec McDonald combined to throw a three-hitter and the Buffs made some stellar plays in the field to post their first shutout of the season.

And it was the way Madras closed out the game that really impressed its first year coach.

With a 1-0 lead late, the Buffs scrapped together some insurance runs on things like a hit batter, a walk and an error. And then with the game on the line, got out of a bases-loaded jam when first baseman Parker Dominguez turned an unassisted double play to end the game.

“It’s awesome to see,” McCormick said. “I think, two or three weeks ago, we might have given up five to 10 runs right there. Instead, we said so what, didn’t give up a one and got out of the thing and put up a shutout, which is very cool.”

It has been a slow process, but one that keeps moving in the right direction. And the Buffs seem to finally be comfortable with what they are doing, both in the field and at the plate.

“Starting out, our defense wasn’t so great,” Dominguez said. “But now, we’re at two or less errors a game, which is really good. Our bats need to come along a little bit more, but other than that, the defense is behind us.

“We just need to mature a little bit more in the batters’ box,” Dominguez said. “You know, maybe put up a 10 spot in the first inning and make it easy on ourselves.”

That may be a little tough to do over the next four games. Madras opened conference play with a pair of games against La Salle, ranked third in Class 4A, and face No. 5 Gladstone next week.

But McCormick isn’t worried about any of that.

“We’re going to do want we need to do to win that game,” McCormick said. “If you look into the future too much, you get blinded as to what is right in front of you. If you are driving across the country, the most important part is the 200 feet your headlights show in front of you, not the 3,000-mile trip. So we are going to focus on the 200 feet and see what we need to do to win.”

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