That familiar, reliable formula hasn’t gone anywhere.
Shut-down pitching, timely hitting and defensive proficiency are what made the Roseburg baseball team league champions four straight years and shot a new lineup of Indians somewhat unexpectedly up to No. 5 in the OSAA Class 6A coaches’ poll last week.
Except one part of the formula was missing Tuesday at Legion Field. Against Grant Pass pitcher Chris Ingledue, even with the benefit of extra innings, the timely hit never came.
Roseburg starter Cody Watkins stalled the Cavemen as long as he could, but his complete game was spoiled when freshman Easton Bents shot an RBI single into left field for what proved to be the game-winning blow in the top of the ninth inning.
Grants Pass 1, Roseburg 0, and what is thought to be one of the most competitively balanced Southern Oregon Hybrid fields in years is off to a promising start — just not the right one, as far as its usual giants are concerned.
“Unfortunately it’s the wrong result, but how it got to that point was very good baseball,” Indians coach Troy Thompson said.
Watkins, a senior right-hander, coaxed 27 outs by being a strike-throwing machine. He struck out eight and walked one, conceding five hits but letting only two Cavemen into scoring position before the ninth inning.
There, Cameron Mathews led off with a hit and was sacrificed to second. Bents had been 0-for-3 by the time he stepped up, but Watkins’ reputable curveball finally betrayed him and was laced through the 6-hole. The Indians appeared to have a shot at Mathews sprinting home, but Layne Westwang’s dart from left was mishandled on the infield.
“(Watkins) is a tricky little pitcher, I’ll tell you that,” Bents said. “He was sneaking around the zone all day but that one curveball just hung over the plate for me a little bit.”
Thanks to the SOH’s newly-adopted scheduling format, the Indians (8-2 overall) will get two more shots at the Cavemen (10-2) on Saturday in Grants Pass.
They’ll be kicking themselves until then, though, with several lost opportunities to keep their five-game winning streak alive in mind. They put runners on base in all but one of the first seven innings, including two in the sixth with one out. In the seventh, sophomore David Irvine ripped a two-out double but was left stranded.
Ben Glaeser relieved Ingledue in the ninth and the first batter he saw, Tristan Guillen, launched a drive that appeared headed for the left-centerfield gap. Centerfielder Chace VanEss robbed Guillen of extra bases with a diving grab, and the last two Indians went down quietly.
Ingledue got the decision, allowing seven hits with five strikeouts and one walk while slaying the Roseburg for eight frames. Cody Bassett and Zach Wyscaver had two hits each for the Indians.
“We just couldn’t get the ball out of the air today,” Irvine said. “I thought our approach was good — we got after (Ingledue), we hit the ball — it just wasn’t falling.”
In the previous three seasons of league play, the Indians had shut out their opponents 14 times and been shut out once. Their only loss in 2012 was a 1-0 decision at North Medford.
Watkins did his best to add onto that total. After VanEss led off the game with a double that struck the wall, he set down nine straight. When the string was broken, he retired 11 more in a row.
“He was very, very good. He was in command,” Thompson said. “It’s a tough loss for him and a tough loss for us to limit a team like that and not be able to push one across.”
• You can reach sports reporter Josh McDermott at 541-957-4219 or by email at email@example.com.
Grants Pass 000 000 001 — 1 5 1
Roseburg 000 000 000 — 0 7 1
Ingledue, Glaeser (9) and Leenknecht; Watkins and Irvine. WP — Ingledue. LP — Watkins. 2B — VanEss (GP), Bassett (R), Irvine (R).
Grants Pass 4
GRANTS PASS — The Indians stroked 13 hits — five of them going for extra bases — in a Southern Oregon Hybrid win over the Cavers a day after falling to North Medford.
Megan Larkin went 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs for Roseburg (6-3, 2-1 SOH). Allyssa Hunt was 2-for-4 with three RBIs, highlighted by a two-run homer in the seventh inning. Freshman Baylee Wyscaver had three hits in four at-bats and scored twice, while Jayde McDowell delivered a two-run single and Jessa Perkinson tripled.
Makinna Akers went the distance, allowing seven hits. She struck out seven and walked four.
“We hit the ball extremely hard and a lot of girls stepped up,” said RHS coach Tony Campos. “We played much better defensively today.”
Haylee Rose and Nicole Godwin each had two hits for Grants Pass (4-9, 2-3).
The Indians host South Medford Saturday in a doubleheader, beginning at noon.
Roseburg 000 041 4 — 9 13 1
Grants Pass 002 000 2 — 4 7 1
Akers and Conklin; Norrick, Robinson (6), Thomas (7) and Lenard. WP — Akers (6-3). LP — Norrick. HR — Hunt (R). 3B — Perkinson (R). 2B — Larkin (R), Reynolds (R), Conklin (R), Robinson (GP).