As a tune-up for the state playoffs, Wednesday’s nonconference baseball game provided everything top-ranked Westview and No. 11 Roseburg could have asked for.
Right down to a walk-off single by Zack Mandera to give Roseburg a 3-2 victory that will add a little spice to any future rematch.
Should a rematch come, it would be in Keizer at Volcanoes Stadium in the Class 6A championship game.
Both teams will open playoffs on Monday, but in opposite halves of the bracket. Westview (23-3) will host an opponent to be determined on Monday, while the Tribe (17-7) will welcome No. 21 Sherwood (18-9) to Bill Gray Stadium at Legion Field.
On Wednesday, neither team led by more than a run and it was the ability of Roseburg’s three pitchers to command the zone and use their defense that set the stage for the Tribe.
Oh, there were pitching mistakes — on both sides and both teams paid the price — but the Indians put together more good at-bats more consistently than the Wildcats.
“It was a good ballgame,” RHS coach Troy Thompson said. “Westview is a very good club. It was great to see them, a great experience to play in a tight ballgame here between the end of the regular season and the postseason.”
Westview came up with three doubles among its four hits — two in the top of the seventh to tie the game at 2-2 — while Roseburg put six walks and six hits to very good use.
In the bottom of the seventh, Garrett Russell and Caden Johnson worked left-hander Braeden Munger for back-to-back full count walks, and Russell reached third on an errant pickoff throw to second, giving the Tribe the winning run 90 feet from home.
That was a familiar situation for Russell, who was called out while attempting to steal home on senior day 11 days ago. There was no discussion of trying to steal the win this time. The Indians put all the pressure on their hitters and on Munger, who got a strikeout and then started Luke Lucido with two strikes.
Then Munger lost the zone, again, and walked Lucido to load the bases for Mandera.
“He had trouble throwing strikes in the last inning and I was looking at the at-bats before me,” Mandera said. “I said I was going to take a pitch — he’d been throwing it in the dirt — so was going to take the first and the second was outside. I figured he’d was struggling on the mound, so he was probably coming with a fastball, so I was ready.”
And he turned on the pitch, driving it through the hole at short to score Russell. Lucido, though, was slow to get to second and there was a moment of confusion as to whether Westview had gotten the third out on the force, or before Russell scored.
“It was more of a brain fart on my part,” said Lucido, a two-year starter who has spent most of his senior season rehabilitating his shoulder and keeping the scorebook. “I guess I was not really as focused as I should be. It was definitely a mistake I will learn from. It will never happen again. I figured out now that you kind of have to get to the next base. I was safe by a step and a half or so, but it was a little too close for comfort. There’s a good lesson there to learn.”
“I was the one scoring the run and then we had to stand around and think about what was going on, and an ending that could have put us in the eighth inning,” Russell said. “But a win against a team like that, heading into the playoffs, we could have had better energy about it, but it is what it is. We feel like we saw some of the better pitching in the state and we were right there with them.”
Westview’s Willie Weiss struck out three and didn’t allow a baserunner in two innings as the starter, leaving with a 1-0 lead.
Roseburg’s Doran Gillespie tied the game in the third off Ben Brauckmann — one of four relievers before Munger came on in the seventh — with a smashing drive to left field for a solo homer.
“That was a great at-bat for him,” Thompson said. “He got down 0-2, then got it to 3-2 and fouled off a few pitches until he got one he could handle and he didn’t miss it. When he gets it, he gets it. It was a real highlight for him and a real highlight for us.”
Jace Stoffal started for Roseburg, throwing 61 pitches through five innings. Mandera needed 11 pitches to get through the sixth and Cody Johnson (3-2) picked up the win with a 14-pitch seventh inning.
“I thought Jace did a tremendous job,” Mandera said. “He shows up every single day, he’s reliable. I thought I pitched pretty good and Cody — we all pitched pretty well.
“It’s huge. I know they’re ranked No. 1, but we just looked at it as another opponent and played. We didn’t just come in to goof off, we wanted to win.”
They did that, snapping the Wildcats’ 16-game win streak in the process.
“Getting on the field, and getting full seven in, to get our pitchers the work that they needed to do and then to get the win on top of that, it was a good day for Roseburg baseball,” Thompson said.
Westview 010 000 1 — 2 4 1
Roseburg 001 001 1 — 3 6 0
Weiss, Brauckmann (3), Cox (4), Williamson (5), Guerra (6), Munger (7) and Sakamoto, Mayer (6), Moreno (7); Stoffal, Mandera (6), Co. Johnson (7) and Jacks. WP — Co. Johnson (3-2). LP — Munger. 2B — Woods (W), Brauckmann (W), Moreno (W). HR — Gillespie (R).
RBIs — Wes. 2 (Cox, Sakamoto), Ros. 2 (Mandera, Gillespie).