Scappoose baseball battles the best, preps for Cowapa race
The Scappoose baseball wasn't going to duck anyone in its preseason schedule.
The Indians, determined to play the best teams they could find to foster growth and improvement, played seven top-25 clubs during its 10-game non-league schedule. Included in Scappoose's schedule were games against Crescent Valley (third-ranked in Class 5A), Central (12th ranked in Class 5A), Rainier (14th ranked in Class 3A) and finally, North Marion, the state's top-ranked Class 4A team.
While the Indians didn't beat North Marion — they dropped a 9-4 decision at North Marion High School on Saturday — they took another step forward toward what they hope will be a successful Cowapa League season.
"We've come a long way," said Scappoose coach Mike Reed. "We played a pretty tough preseason schedule. We played good teams, and playing these guys is always a pleasure because you know you're going to be challenged."
The Indians reaped the rewards of their non-league experience when they pounded Astoria 13-1 in their Cowapa League opener on Tuesday. With that win, ninth-ranked Scappoose moved to 1-0 in league play and 7-4 overall. For North Marion, its Saturday win and Monday-Tuesday split with Newport took the Huskies' Oregon West Conference record to 1-1 and their overall mark to 11-2.
"We played some really good defense (against Scappoose)," North Marion coach Randy Brack said. "When we put our balls in play, they struggled making some plays and we made some timely hits and ran the bases pretty aggressively. That ended up being the difference of the game, that we were able to defend and they weren't, kind of opened the doors for us to score some runs."
Reed agreed with Brack's assessment.
"Routine plays. It's routine plays and we didn't make them today," he said. "You keep an inning going when you have a ground ball to first, and if you make the play there, they don't score. And then we make two errors at second and an error at shortstop, and we should have been out of the inning 1-0."
After two scoreless innings at the start of the game, the dynamic of the game changed in the third. Scappoose drew first blood when Jerad Toman reached base on a North Marion error, then scored when J.C. Gross singled to left-center field in the top of the third, but North Marion came roaring back in the bottom of the inning.
The Huskies brought in five runs in their half of the third, taking advantage of three hits — singles by Sergio Jimenez, Andy Schmitz and Grant Henry — as well as some costly Scappoose errors that helped fuel North Marion's 5-1 lead.
From then on, Scappoose was playing a game of catch up, and North Marion made sure that didn't happen.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Huskies tacked on four more runs to extend their lead to 9-1, with Henry leading off with a single, Isaac Hansen getting hit by a Logan Travis pitch and Griffin Henry hitting a sacrifice fly to center field.
Lemon followed with a run-scoring single to chase Travis from the game, and the Huskies pushed across two more against reliever Ben Anicker to boost North Marion's lead to eight.
Given Scappoose's struggles on defense — Reed said the team committed eight errors — North Marion knew that its own "D" had played at least as large a part in its win as its offense.
"We really try and improve our defense," Brack said. "That's a big thing for us. Our outfielders played really well for us, … (Andy Schmitz) made a really great play at shortstop today (and) the rest of it was solid defensive stuff. In high school baseball, usually the teams that don't give away free bases — whether it be by walks, hit batters or errors — usually, they win a lot of games."
"I thought they made three plays early in the game that decided it," Reed said. "They made a play in center field, they made a play in right field, and the kid at shortstop made a great play and they fed off of that and we didn't make a routine play and they're making a great play. There's nine runs."
In its final at-bat, facing North Marion reliever Ryan Olson, Scappoose opened with back-to-back singles from Breeler Mann and Anicker, then saw Toman knock in the first run of the frame. Olson then got Gross and Nicky Gill out in order before Travis singled to left field to bring home their team's final two runs.
While Travis took the loss, he scattered seven hits and two walks while striking out two and allowing just four earned runs.
"I thought our (Travis) actually threw pretty well today," Reed said. "He struggled to find it (sometimes), but his location was generally pretty good. We just didn't support him at all."
Offensively, Toman, Gross, Gill, Travis, Mann and Anicker had one hit apiece in the loss. Schmitz led the Huskies at the plate, going 3 for 4 and knocking in three, while Grant Henry went 2 for 4 and scored twice.
In upcoming games, Scappoose plays at Banks at 5 p.m. Tuesday, then hosts the Braves at 5 p.m. Thursday.