Apollo upperclassmen leading young team

In order for the Sunset baseball team to climb the Metro standings next season, its versed returners will have to shepherd the countless young Apollos dipping their toes into the varsity pool this summer.

Until the nippers learn how to swim, the old hands are compelled to keep them afloat — just as they did in Sunset's 6-5 OIBA win over Forest Grove in 10 innings on Thursday. by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset second baseman Justin Silvey goes the other way with a pitch in the fourth inning of the Apollos 6-5 OIBA win over Forest Grove on Thursday.

First baseman Chad Maheu struck out looking with runners on second and third in the seventh and hit into a fielders' choice in the fourth. The junior southpaw was set on making reparations after Dom Black led off the 10th by doming a double to the gap in right-center.

Maheu made amends by coiling a single to right to bring home Black.

“The past at-bats I wasn't doing well at all, but I got a nice little pitch down the middle that I could hit,” said Maheu. “That little bloop was all I needed.”by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset catcher Dom Black laid down a perfect bunt in the fourth inning to load the bases and trigger a four-run rally for the Apollos in a 6-5 victory over Forest Grove.

Sunset is awfully young with just four varsity players on the OIBA roster. The underclassmen are talented though, with potential studs like Scott Wright manning the infield and showing capability on the mound. The next two months on the diamond will resemble a test lab for the Apollos as they engrain their team mentality on the greenhorns and come up with a new idenity.

“Team chemistry is very important,” said junior Jake Neeson. “You just have to bond yourself with as many players as you can, get to know everybody. It makes it a lot easier on the field just knowing how people move, how they can play and what they're capable of.”

Maheu and Neeson said it's on them as veterans to get the rookies up to speed quickly this summer because the Metro League is unforgiving on the inexperienced, to say the least. Future collegiate hurlers like Jesuit's Christian Martinek and Southridge's Parker Stidham like to dine on green youngsters, so Maheu is encouraging the Apollos to hold up a constructive mentality.

“I know they're scared coming up here (on the varsity level), I know I was scared coming up here last year, so I know how they're feeling,” acknowledged Maheu. “As a varsity player, you have to welcome them, teach them how to play on this level. We have to mentor them, basically, but they're good players. They played well on JV so I trust them. I think they'll do pretty well up here.”

“Summer ball is really important in training the younger guys on how to act at the varsity level,” added Black. “We get them ready for the spring season. We just have to work with them as much as we can and make them feel welcome on the team, so we can do our best in the spring.”by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset pitcher Scott Wright tries to pickoff a Forest Grove base stealer at first base during the Apollos OIBA 6-5 win.

Going into the bottom of the third inning, Sunset trailed 4-0 but dug back into the contest with a big dose of small ball.

Black laid down an inerrant bunt in front of home plate to load the bases with no outs. Maheu drove in a run with a fielder's choice, then Kasey Porter hit a projectile at the Viking third baseman who couldn't handle the ball to plate another score. Catcher Nick Pullen hustled out an infield RBI single to make it 4-3.

The tying blow came when Porter was caught dancing off third base, but Forest Grove's catcher threw the pickle attempt over the head of the Viking infield, allowing Porter to even the score, 4-4.

Sunset didn't get a ball out of the infield in the third, but their bats connected with the sphere, which put pressure squarely on Forest Grove's defense. The Vikings couldn't get out of their own way, and the Apollos hustled their way back into the contest.

“Our coaches know what we can do at the plate, and they expect us to hit it and trust our approaches,” said Black. “We hit the ball on the ground, make the other team catch it, throw it and catch it again.”

Trailing 5-4 in the sixth, Chris Snyder singled to left, Black walked, and Porter was hit by a pitch to load the bases again. The right-handed hitting Pullen smoked a ball on the screws at the Viking shortstop, who fell to his knees trying to clean up the grounder and let Snyder level the tally, TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset shortstop Jake Neesen made a slew of big defensive plays that kept Forest Grove off the scoreboard in the Apollos extra inning win over Forest Grove.

Sunset's terrific pitching and defense picked up right where it left off from the 6A state playoffs. Porter was impressive on the mound, shutting out Forest Grove for the final three innings while striking out eight and yielding just a trio of hits. Wright and lefty Grant Gilligan both put in quality two inning stints and benefited from an assortment of highlight plays from the Apollo infield.

Neeson and second baseman Justin Silvey turned two twin killings that aided both hurlers' causes on the hill. In the top of the 10th with the go-ahead run on third, Neeson ranged to his left, retrieved a chopper on the infield and made an off-balance, one-footed throw to Pullen at home for the second out of the stanza.

Silvey, who moved to third base later in the contest, continued the sound defense by pegging a baserunner at first for the final out of the inning.

“That was the first game in a while that we've seen some good double plays as a team,” said Maheu. “We stayed down on the ball all the time. That was solid defense by Jake (Neeson) and Silvy at second. I have to give it to them, all game those were nice.”

Contract Publishing

Go to top
Template by JoomlaShine