After suffering late-game losses in its last three contests, the Roseburg High baseball team was determined to narrow its focus and get back in the win column on Saturday by finishing games.
With prom lurking in the back of their minds, the Indians managed to put the outside distractions aside and sweep a Southwest Conference doubleheader against the visiting Grants Pass Cavemen, 13-3 and 3-0, at Bill Gray Stadium at Legion Field.
“It was really good getting two wins, especially on a day like this with prom and everything,” said Mason Littlefield, who had two hits and two RBIs in the opener. “We kept a lot of focus. It was good.”
Roseburg (12-6, 9-3 SWC) clinched no worse than a third place finish in the SWC, which guarantees the Indians a spot in the postseason. The Indians also passed South Eugene (15-7, 8-4) for first place in the conference. The Axe lost both games of a doubleheader at South Medford.
The Tribe had a successful day in all three facets of the game — pitching, hitting and defense. Roseburg’s pitchers, Zack Mandera and Jace Stoffal, combined to throw 12 innings of shutout baseball while also striking out 17 hitters and walking just one.
“Having the performances we had on the mound from both Zack Mandera and Jace Stoffal today was fantastic from both of them,” Roseburg coach Troy Thompson said.
Mandera improved to 5-2 on the year with a complete game victory in Game 1. He allowed five hits and only one earned run, striking out six and walking one.
The offense backed him up in a big way. The Indians finished with 11 hits, including three doubles and three triples.
Roseburg sent 11 hitters to the plate and built a 7-0 lead in the fourth inning against G.P. starter Cade King.
Back-to-back errors on the same play gave the Indians their first two runs. Jett Black tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt to advance Garrett Zeimet, but was safe when the throw pulled first baseman Braeden Bellum off the bag.
Zeimet, pinch-running for Mandera, wisely chose to keep running around second after seeing that the Cavemen had no one covering third base. Bellum tried to throw across the diamond to get Zeimet, but his throw got away and rolled deep into the left field corner, allowing Zeimet and Black to score.
The Indians stretched the lead to 7-0 in the fourth on a wild pitch, a two-run triple by Spencer Six and a two-run double by Mandera.
Grants Pass (11-12, 3-9), guided by Douglas High alum Kevin Shafer, avoided the shutout with three runs in the fifth. A double by Jett Hood drove in the first run and a dropped flyball by Luke Van Norman allowed the Cavemen to add two unearned runs.
Roseburg responded by scoring twice in the fifth and finished off the mercy rule victory with four runs in the sixth.
Six was a home run shy of hitting for the cycle in Game 1. Jonathan Stone had his first hits since returning from injury and went 3-for-4. Littlefield and Mandera each had two hits and two RBIs.
In Game 2, Stoffal was nearly untouchable. The junior right-hander tossed all seven innings and recorded 11 strikeouts, walking none and allowing four hits.
Grants Pass didn’t have a hit until the fourth inning and only managed to get one runner past first.
“It felt really good. My arm felt good and I trusted my defense behind me,” Stoffal said. “I got run support and went out there and just did my job.”
His workman-like attitude was mirrored by Roseburg’s offense, which grinded out enough runs for the win. Stoffal drew a two-out bases loaded walk in the third to give the Indians a 1-0 advantage.
Roseburg tacked on two runs in the fourth on a passed ball and a sacrifice fly from Mandera.
With three games left in the regular season, Roseburg holds a one-game lead over South Eugene and South Medford.
Up next for the Indians is the final home game of the regular season against South Medford on Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
G. Pass 000 030 — 3 5 5
Roseburg 000 724 — 13 11 1
King, Tobin (4), Elzy (6) and Hood; Mandera and Six. WP — Mandera, 5-2. LP — King. 2B — Hood (GP), Littlefield (R), Six (R), Mandera (R). 3B — Littlefield (R), Six (R), Black (R).
G. Pass 000 000 0 — 0 4 0
Roseburg 001 200 x — 3 5 1
Knight, Calabro (4) and Hood; Stoffal and Six. WP — Stoffal, 3-1. LP — Knight.