The Pioneers summer squad takes down West Linn and Gresham

by: SANDY POST: PARKER LEE - Sandys Nick Martin dives back to first base safely after a pick-off attempt.With just a few days remaining in the OIBA season, the Sandy summer baseball team took a big leap forward. The Pioneers swept a Thursday doubleheader against a pair of 6A schools, West Linn and Gresham, to boost their league standing.

Sandy edged West Linn in the first game, 3-2, by scoring two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. In the night-cap, the Pioneers brushed off a Gresham rally and ran away with a 12-6 win.

“With the playoffs coming, it’s nice to know that we can come back when we get behind late,” Sandy’s Sam Kalar said. “Gresham beat us the first few times we played them, so it felt good to get this one.”

The victory over Gresham under the lights was unlike any game played this summer. At times, the game was downright bizarre and inexplicable.

At the end of four innings, Sandy did not have a single base hit, but still held a 5-1 lead. That was a credit to the Pioneers’ patience at the plate. In the third inning, Gresham’s pitchers lost all command of the strike zone and walked five straight batters. Sandy scored two runs by simply standing in the box.

The Pioneers manufactured two more runs in the inning without hitting the ball out of the infield. The first came when Carson Dwyre hit a chopper to Gresham shortstop Trevor Nannini with the bases loaded and one out. Nannini fielded and flipped to second baseman Jaelen Bradley who stepped on the bag and fired to first. Dwyre beat out the throw to prevent the double play and Rhett Schilperoort scored from third.

With Dwyre on first and Austin Carson on third, Sandy gave Dwyre the sign to steal. He took off and the throw from Gresham catcher Cody Janway sailed into the outfield, allowing Carson to stroll in from third.

Gresham only had one hit of its own in the first four frames, but got its act together in the fifth. After a couple walks and a fielder’s choice, Gresham rattled off three consecutive singles to bring in three runs. The Gophers then came up with the play that gave them the lead, and seemingly the momentum.

After seeing Sandy’s first-and-third success, Gresham tried its hand at it. Nannini, who was on first, broke for second with Mason McCoy watching carefully from his spot on third base. When the throw went through to second, McCoy broke for home. Sandy shortstop Kyle Stipe cut off the throw and hurled back home to try to get McCoy. McCoy slid in safely when the ball skipped to the backstop and Nannini took third. As the Sandy catcher went back to retrieve the ball, no one covered home and Nannini took advantage. With a head-first dive, Nannini scored to give Gresham a 6-5 lead.

The sudden change of fortune snapped Sandy out of its hitless funk and the Pioneers batted around in the fifth and sixth innings to tack on seven runs on nine hits. With the game back in hand, Sandy turned to Kalar to close it out on the mound. He blanked the Gophers in the final two innings and allowed just one hit.

“Since the beginning of the summer, there have been times when we have fallen apart late in games,” Kalar said. “I think today we showed that we are improving and getting past that.”

Offensively, Kalar was hit by a pitch, walked twice and doubled. Nick Martin reached base five times and had a key two-run single in the fifth inning. Dwyre recorded two hits, two runs and two stolen bases, while Mitchell Lovely added two RBI-singles and scored a pair of runs.

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