St. Paul baseball drops first games of the season against Knappa
St. Paul's dominance of the Class 1A/2A Casco League came to an end last week at the hands of Knappa High School.
The Bucks entered the series 14-0 overall and 11-0 in league play; the Loggers were a perfect 12-0 in league play as well.
In the end it was the defense and pitching of Knappa that got the job done against St. Paul. On April 26 St. Paul was bested 9-0. In the Friday doubleheader St. Paul lost 11-0 and 6-0 to wind up with three straight losses.
However, SPHS coach Dwayne Nowlin said the losses did not dampen the spirit of his players.
"The nice thing is with this group of kids, their mood is always up," he said. "If you looked in our dugout, you couldn't tell if we were ahead by 10 or losing by 10 … I mean we were down 11-0 and I look over to the dugout and they're all up on the fence, they're all hollering, they're having a good time."
The losses against Knappa were a learning lesson for the Bucks, who faced a stingy Logger defense. St. Paul accrued just four hits over the course of seven innings in the first game; in the second game the Bucks managed no hits and in the third game they notched three hits.
For an offense that likes to be active in stealing bases and "take a lot of chances," it was a tough showing.
Defensively, the team struggled as well. Pitchers Warren Rose and Clay Smith gave up seven walks and the Bucks committed seven errors in the first game. In the second game Rose and Lance Tuck combined for three walks and their cohorts committed eight errors. In the third game, right-hander Seth Knutson got the start from the mound, giving up seven hits and a walk, while the defense trimmed its errors to two.
"Our thing is, we just gave them too many free bases," Nowlin said. "We were in the three games, we walked them 14 times, hit their batter three times. You know, against a good team like that, you just can't do that."
The Bucks have a difficult end to the regular season ahead of them. In the coming week, the team faces off against Neah-Kah-Nie (13-1) in a three-game series that will likely determine the No. 2 and 3 spots in league going into the playoffs. In addition, St. Paul will also face off against Nestucca (4-13) on May 4.
Once league play is concluded, St. Paul will face a pair of highly ranked non-league teams in No. 1 ranked Umpqua Valley Christian (15-4) and No. 11 ranked Regis (15-6). Nowlin is excited about the chance to test his team and keep them active ahead of the postseason.
"Right now we're all thinking, the coaches and the players, is Tuesday we got to get one or two from Neah-Kah-Nie," Nowlin said. "And the reason (athletic director Tony) Smith got us those two last games against Regis and Umpqua Valley (Christian) is because that's our bye week in this league … we decided we don't want to sit around for 10 days waiting for playoffs."
In anticipation of those upcoming games, Nowlin and his coaches want the players to do one thing: move forward.
"All of us coaches are just proud of these boys because they could have given up and that second game was tough on us," Nowlin said. "But that third game, our boys played well. We played really well and I'm just happy their (with) attitudes and how they keep grinding and when they come to practice Monday, they'll be ready to go.
"Our big thing is flush it. When bad things happen, you just flush it and move on. That's what we're teaching is we have to do the fundamental things because let me tell you, Neah-Kah-Nie is good. That is a good team we're going to face."
St. Paul's first game against Niah-Kah-Nie will be on May 3 on the road.
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