There was a very simple message to Dr. Stewart’s players between the top of the fourth and the bottom of the inning Wednesday night at Bill Gray Stadium at Legion Field.
Coach Scott Shaver drew the team together before the Docs batted in their half of the frame for a quick chat.
“We don’t lose. We don’t lose today,” Shaver said of his quick speech. “We gave up eight runs, but we didn’t make any errors, we weren’t playing badly, but it was time to turn it on a bit on the bases and do some of those things and come up clean at the plate. The kids did that and it wound up being a very good game.”
With nine runs over their next two at-bats, the Docs turned an 8-2 deficit into an 11-8 victory over Grants Pass that was made more impressive by the uneven equipment they played with.
With a wood bat tournament in Eugene this weekend, Shaver chose to use Wednesday’s nonleague contest as a tune-up; Dr. Stewart’s played with wood bats, while G.P. used its regular bats.
“Very, very fun,” Docs centerfielder Garrett Russell said. “I like them.”
Russell, who hits leadoff for the Docs, raised his batting average to a staggering .692 (9-for-13) Wednesday night, going 3-for-3 with a double, three runs scored and three RBIs. He’s had no less than two hits in each of the Docs’ four games thus far.
“He’s doing something right,” winning pitcher Jonathan Stone said. “I don’t know what, but he’s doing something right. He’s a scrappy kind of guy and I don’t really care (what he’s doing) as long as he’s getting on base and scoring runs to help us.”
Every starter had at least one hit as the Docs put up 14 hits, including four doubles and a triple.
Starting pitcher Cade Meisner didn’t allow a hit through three innings and had a 2-1 lead going into the fourth. The right-hander from Sutherlin gave up four hits, two walks and hit a batter before leaving with two outs and his team behind 5-2. Stone came in to face G.P. first baseman Braeden Bellum, who started the inning with a single, with the bases loaded.
“Yeah, it was a rough inning,” Shaver said. “I wanted to bring Stone in with a clean inning, so I went a little longer with Meisner than I wanted to, but Stoney came in and did all right. He found barrel twice — they got two hits — and after that he cleaned up and threw a pretty good game.”
Bellum doubled to score runs, but he was unable to score from second when Matt Knight singled, and Stone induced Andrew Eide to ground out to second to end the inning.
Then came Shaver’s speech and Dr. Stewart’s rally. Eight batters got the Docs five hits and four runs, and they were back in the contest.
In the bottom of the fifth, Jett Black, Russell and Zach Holland all stroked two-out doubles to push the Docs back in front. Russell’s double scored two and put Dr. Stewart’s on top, 10-8.
Both Russell and Stone played for Roseburg High in the spring; Russell hit leadoff and played center, while Stone was strictly the best first baseman in the Southwest Conference. However, Stone hadn’t pitched in a game in more than a year. He had spent time in the offseason working with Dr. Stewart’s pitching coach Tom Nielsen, though, and the fruits of those labors were on display against Grants Pass.
“I worked with coach Nielsen a lot, trying to get those mechanics good,” Stone said. “He’s a great coach; I like him and he’s helping me out a lot.”
Stone went 2 1/3 innings to earn the win. Doran Gillespie needed five pitches to pick up a save with an inning of work in the seventh.
With the wood bats in the hands of the hitters for more than a day, the Docs were able to make the necessary adjustments to defeat Grants Pass for a second time in 72 hours.
“We broke them out in practice (Tuesday) for some batting practice,” Shaver said. “We’ll do that again (Thursday) and we’ll be stronger with them. It’s not a bad way to go — it is a different way to go. You definitely see more flaws when you’re using wood. I was proud of the guys, they definitely found a lot of barrel.”
And that translated into the offensive outbreak the Docs will need to be a contender in Area IV.
“The team is hitting really well right now,” Russell said. “I have got to thank my team for being there. We’re driving a lot of runs and hits, RBIs as a team.”
Holland, Kyler Leischner and Zack Mandera both had two-hit games.
Mandera started the fifth-inning rally with a one-out triple and scored on a G.P. error; he started the fourth-inning rally with a leadoff single.
The Docs (3-1) will face Siskiyous at 11:30 a.m. Friday at Swede Johnson Stadium in their opener for the Eugene Tournament. The squad will then face Vancouver and host Eugene Saturday afternoon before playing a trophy game on Sunday.
Grants Pass 100 700 0 — 8 7 2
Dr. Stewart's 101 450 x — 11 14 0
Calabro, Tobin (5) and Kroplin; Meisner, Stone (4), Gillespie (7) and Leischner. WP — Stone (1-0). LP — Calabro. Sv. — Gillespie (1). 2B — Bellum (G.P.), Russell (DS), Holland (DS), Ca. Johnson (DS), J. Black (DS). 3B — Zack Mandera (DS).
Hits — G.P. 7 (Tobin 0-1, Kroplin 0-3, Calabro 0-2, Bellum 2-4, Knight 2-4, Eide 2-4, Durler 0-3, Brisbane 1-3, Poague 0-1, Elzy 0-3), D.S. 14 (Russell 3-3, Holland 2-3, Lucido 1-4, B. Black 1-3, Mandera 2-4, Co. Johnson 1-4, Leischner 2-3, Ca. Johnson 1-2, Luther 0-0, J. Black 1-3). RBIs — G.P. 8 (Tobin, Calabro, Bellum 4, Durler, Brisbane), D.S. 10 (Russell 3, Holland, B. Black, Co. Johnson 2, Ca. Johnson, Luther, J. Black).