The Indian baseball team gets a combined no-hitter at Rainier, win at Cascade

So far, so good for the Scappoose baseball team.

After three games, the Class 4A Indians have:

• Two wins, with the only loss a competitive defeat at 5A Crescent Valley.

• A combined no-hitter from pitchers J.C. Gross and Breeler Mann.

• Twenty-six hits and consistent run production — six in the first game, then eight and nine.

• Two or more RBIs from six players.

• Only three errors.

"I'm very happy with the way we're playing," said second-year coach Mike Reed. "Our errors are way down from last year."

He's not terribly surprised.

"Starting with open gyms in January, the kids have been good about showing up, and we have a lot of (baseball) academy kids who work year-round," Reed said. "They're a close-knit group, good kids, a pleasure to be around."

The Indians opened the season with a 6-5 win March 12 at Cascade, lost 11-8 on March 16 at Crescent Valley in Corvallis, then defeated Rainier 9-0 on Monday.

Scappoose had a game slated for Thursday at Sweet Home and then will continue its preseason odyssey, with road games against Marshfield, Newport, Stayton, Central and North Marion before starting the Cowapa League season — where else but on the road — at Astoria on April 3.

That would make 11 away games before the Indians' home opener on April 5 against the Fishermen. All by design.

"Our field typically doesn't drain well, so we scheduled with that in mind," Reed said.

Ironically, the weather in Scappoose was good enough the past week or so that as of Tuesday "our field was absolutely perfect, so we could have played there," Reed said.

Nonetheless, all the traveling — and scheduled overnight stays in Lebanon and Newport — may only help what is a relatively veteran team bond even further.

"Absolutely," Reed said.

One game that was scheduled for Scappoose got rained out, and Reed said that game — against St. Helens — won't be made up this season.

The focus instead will be on trying to build momentum while playing some tough opponents around the state. Scappoose faced Newport in a 2017 play-in game at Newport, losing 8-4. Central is a 5A team. North Marion was ranked No. 1 in 4A this week after starting 5-0.

Reed was hoping to move the game with Marshfield from Coos Bay to Newport, which has artificial turf.

"It's a good environment for the kids, a great place to play," he said. "I've played there before, even when it was raining and blowing at 40 miles per hour. The kids like the field there and I like the field."

Reed would like to get in those games, see some more good pitching and get his team's bats going even better.

"We've got a couple guys who are struggling, but once we take care of that and everyone wakes up, this is a pretty good offensive team, top to bottom," he said.

Through three games, Scappoose was batting .295. Among the leaders at the plate: Gross at .667 (4 for 6), Logan Travis at .455 (5 for 11, one triple, three doubles), Jordan Buchanon at .429 (3 for 7), Jerad Toman at .333 (3 for 9, one home run, one double) and Carson Witt at .300 (3 for 10, one double).

Toman has five RBIs, Travis and Terrence Lewis each have four, Gross has three, and Buchanon and Nicky Gill have two apiece.

At Rainier, Gross and Mann combined on the no-hitter. Gross started and went four innings, posting six strikeouts with three walks before reaching his pitch count. Mann came on and retired the Columbians nine up, nine down and fanning four.

Rainier hit one ball hard and shortstop Ben Anicker made a big throw to get the batter at first.

Rainier also hit a ball to right field in the fifth inning that looked like it would be a base hit — but Travis charged the ball and made a throw to first in time for the out.

Toman had the biggest stick against the Columbians — he hit a two-run homer and a two-run double.

The opening win at Cascade was a back-and-forth affair. Scappoose scored three runs in its first at-bat, then gave up four in the bottom of the inning without a hit (the Indians issued five walks, hit a batter and made an error).

Single runs by Scappoose in the third and fourth innings put the Indians in front 5-4.

Cascade pulled even in the fifth, but in the top of the sixth, Buchanon's groundout to shortstop brought home the winning run.

Mann picked up the victory with a sterling, and lengthy, relief stint. He threw the final six innings, allowing only two hits and two walks while notching 10 Ks.

The next game, at Crescent Valley, also had its ups and downs. Scappoose took a 3-0 lead with three runs in the third inning, but the host Raiders plated nine in the fourth. The Indians rallied with five runs in the top of the sixth, but Crescent Valley got some insurance with two runs in the bottom of the frame.

Scappoose starter Travis pitched well, striking out five batters in 3 1/3 innings before hitting his pitch count.

The Raiders had nine hits, and the Indians had eight.

"We saw better pitching against them," Reed said. "(Class) 4A schools will have one or two guys who throw hard, but 5A schools typically have more guys throwing hard. And Crescent Valley swings the bats very well. So I was happy with how we performed. We were competitive and had a chance to win."