Rain deals itself a hand in last week’s baseball games

BY GINI DAIVS / THE CRESWELL CHRONICLE

Attempting to outpace the impending rainfall, the Creswell Bulldogs played visiting St. Mary’s at 2 instead of 4:30 p.m. on March 21, falling 1-3.

Colton White went the distance on the mound, giving up 1 earned run on five hits, striking out 10 and walking one. “Colton is really doing very well for us,” said Creswell Head Coach Chris Whitmore. “Throwing them in the strike zone and getting ahead in the count is paying off for our pitchers this year.”

St. Mary’s scored in the second, and both teams scored in the fifth to make it 1-2. St. Mary’s added their final run in the seventh.

Three errors and silent Bulldog bats made the difference in the game, Whitmore said. Shortstop Jack Callahan got Creswell’s only hit, going 1-for-2. Dean Howard scored a run.

“Our bats have been pretty quiet so far this year; we’ve knocked down the number of strikeouts looking, but we’ve still got quite a few strikeouts swinging,” Whitmore said.

Making confident defensive plays will also be important moving forward, he said.

“I’m seeing flashes of brilliance in the infield,” Whitmore said, citing a diving reach-back catch by Callahan and his diving stop of a hard-hit ground ball before completing the play for a force out at second against Portland Christian on Saturday, and some equally memorable plays by freshman second baseman Dallton Dewey.

“Jack hadn’t played since fifth grade, but he’s so athletic; after plays like that I tell him, ‘that’s why you’re a varsity shortstop,’” Whitmore said. “Dallton spent the last three years playing Babe Ruth, and he’s just got to get comfortable.”

The Bulldogs also traveled to the annual Volcanoes Spring Break Tournament, held March 24-26 at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer.

The tournament was also bedeviled by rain, with Sunday’s final games rained out, “but we’ll play Catlin Gabel for third place this Sunday, and Harrisburg will play Molalla for the championship – that’s what we’re hoping works out anyway,” Whitmore said.

Creswell fell 3-6 to Molalla on March 24, but defeated Portland Christian 8-4 on March 25.

Against Molalla, Cade Apo pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up three earned runs on four hits, striking out eight and walking three. “At one point he struck out five in a row, so he was pitching really well,” Whitmore said.

The score was 3-4 going into the sixth, with the Bulldogs in the field, racing the clock: “This tournament has a rule that no new inning starts after an hour and 50 minutes,” Whitmore said.

The Dawgs got one quick out. Then Apo walked a batter, “and that rattled him, threw off his mechanics; he started shortening up his arm. They scored two more runs, and the umpire called the game,” Whitmore said. “That was frustrating, and I know it bothered Cade, because he knows he’s better than that.”

Creswell led 2-1 until the fifth, when a couple of misplayed fly balls and a bobbled grounder at third contributed to Molalla scoring three more runs. “The wind was howling and it was blowing out, and those fly balls were hit really high, so anybody would’ve had a hard time judging them,” Whitmore said.

Apo went 1-for-2 for Creswell’s only hit. He also scored, as did Brady Lane and Howard.

With Creswell committing three errors to Molalla’s five, “it was a game we should’ve won; I really feel like we were the better team,” Whitmore said. “But we still couldn’t get our bats going, and we stranded six runners on base.”

Against Portland Christian, Howard pitched 3 1/3 innings, giving up one hit, striking out five, walking two and committing a balk. “Dean had the two walks and the balk in the same inning – before that he was cruising,” Whitmore said. “He’s only a sophomore; he’s just got to keep his composure and understand that two walks doesn’t mean the game is over.”

Creswell was down by two when Dallas Dewey took over on the mound. He gave up one earned run on four hits, struck out two and walked two in 2 2/3 innings, collecting the win.

Apo again went 1-for-2 and scored. Lane scored twice; White, Hunter Stevahn, Dallas Dewey, Callahan and Dallton Dewey each scored a run.

“As a team, we were walked five times, we got on first on two dropped strike threes and we stole second five times, so our running game came into play for us,” Whitmore said.

The Dawgs also advanced and scored on some errors (Portland Christian committed six to Creswell’s two in the game) – particularly in the fifth, when the Dawgs scored seven. Lane also scored on a suicide squeeze attempt by Apo.

“The pitch was in the dirt, and Cade fell over trying to get a bat on it. The catcher stopped the ball but wasn’t able to pick it up in time and Brady scored,” Whitmore said. “We’ve been working a lot on our situational hitting, moving runners over, and capitalizing on other teams’ mistakes, and that all went well – but we’ve gotta get something going with our bats.”

Lane’s on-base percentage is .619 this season, but the Bulldogs’ team batting average is just .169. “If we can get our bats going and be confident in the field, I have high hopes for our team,” Whitmore said.