Early news reports predicted some rather nasty weather for the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day. According to Eagles’ varsity head coach, Mike Newmann, the Eagle Point vs Klamath Union double-header was the only game in the valley that was not postponed for rain on Saturday, March 17. All this had an undesired psychological effect on coach Newmann’s baseball team.
“I told the boys last night, ‘we’re going to play tomorrow,’” Newmann said. “But I don’t think they believed me.”
So, the Eagles had a slow start in their first game against Klamath Union. Despite some tactical base running, they did not score any runs until the third inning. But, the third was an exciting inning for the Eagles.
In the bottom, Zack Meerten moved to second base on a bunt by Curt Augino and ran home on a double hit by Branden Wilson. Immediately following, Johnny Wilkerson batted Wilson in from second with another double. Wilkerson was able to steal home from third before the last out, which put the score at 3 – 2 in favor of the Eagles.
Newmann explained this change of pace as a matter of positive coaching in the dugout. “Coach Meerten got pretty fired up at them, and they seemed to spark it a little bit,” Newmann said.
Unfortunately, the fourth inning saw a home run and a total of eight runs for the Pelicans. This put Klamath Union in the lead by seven, and the Eagles spent the rest of this game on the comeback trail.
Eagle Point kept the Pelicans to only one more run for the rest of the game, while continuing to score seven more for themselves. It was not enough, however, and the Eagles took their last out of the seventh inning with a runner on first. The final score was 10 – 11 for Klamath Union.
After a lunch break, the Eagles took the field ready to win the second game. This time the Eagles were the first to score. In the second inning, Evan Jolliffe ran home shortly before Nick Smith was batted in on a base hit by Meerten. Jolliffe went on to bring Cody Pfister and James Dixon home on a double RBI, and scored his own run near the end of the third.
The fourth inning began with the Eagles leading 5 – 0, and here Klamath Union got their one and only point for this game. It was a stalemate on the scoreboard for the remaining innings. Eagle Point won 5 – 1.
This was in no small way due to the dominant pitching performance given by Branden Wilson. Wilson, a 6’3” junior, struck out a total of seven batters in seven innings. “Branden’s going to do great things this year,” Coach Newmann said.
Newmann described his players as “a very young team” that needs to learn how to “start from pitch one and play all the way through.” But, he also called them “hungry,” and said his athletes maintain high expectations for themselves. “These guys, they’re a whole different team than last year,” Newmann said. “I think they’re going to surprise some people.”
Upcoming contests for Eagle Point baseball include a double-header at Illinois Valley on Saturday, March 24, and another two games at home against Bend High School on Monday, March 26.
By Michael Stephens
Of the Independent