Indian baseball regroups with win at Hillsboro
When the Scappoose baseball is clean and right defensively, coach Cameron Webb is confident the Indians can compete with any team in the Northwest Oregon Conference.
The Indians have enough quality arms in Logan Travis and Breeler Mann, among others, and enough hitting to produce a sufficient amount of scoring.
But that final defensive piece is the Scappoose's bellwether. And, in the final two games against St. Helens last week, it was the Indians' Achilles' heel.
After dropping a winnable 9-7 decision at home against St. Helens on April 24, Scappoose committed two costly errors that helped St. Helens take the "Seven-Mile War" rubber match 3-1 at St. Helens on April 26.
"We control our own destiny based on the plays we make on defense," Webb said. "When we do that, I think we can beat anybody. When we don't, there's no such thing as an easy win."
The Indians proved their coach's former premise on Wednesday, when they whacked Hillsboro 11-3 at Rutschman Stadium in Hillsboro in the middle meeting of a three-game series.
Scappoose banged out 11 hits and came from behind with a huge late surge. The Indians also survived their three errors, as Hillsboro made six and was held to five hits.
"We've gotten a lot better from the start of the season until now," Webb said of the defense. "Guys have been challenged playing different spots at times. They put a lot of pressure on themselves when things don't go right, and it's almost a matter of bringing it back down to the basics and trusting ourselves as much as possible."
Despite the rivarly series setback last week, the ever-positive Webb remained optimistic about the Indians' final month of the season — and Wednesday's game provided some validation for his faith.
Hillsboro led 3-2 after five innings, but Scappoose took the lead with a two-run sixth and exploded for seven runs in the seventh.
Ben Anicker had two of the Indians' four extra-base hits (all doubles). Tyler Souvenir and Mann each had a double as well.
Anicker was 2 for 5 with two RBIs and two runs scored in the leadoff spot. Souvenir was 2 for 3 with three RBIs. Each had a two-run double in the seventh.
Anicker got the pitching win with 2.1 innings of relief. He gave up one hit but no walks or runs while striking out five in place of starter Liam McMullen, who allowed four hits and three runs in 4.2 innings.
Scappoose had lost 10-9 at home to Hillsboro on Tuesday. The Spartans led 8-3 after four innings and 10-5 going into the bottom of the sixth, when the Indians got close by scoring four times. In the seventh, Scappoose's Mike Reed walked with one out and got to third before a ground out ended the game.
Quincy Cleveland was 3 for 4 in the loss for the Indians. Travis went 2 for 3 with a home run and three RBIs. Mann was 2 for 3 with a double, scored three times and plated two runners. Anicker got the big sixth inning going with a leadoff triple.
Scappoose will play the series finale at home against Hillsboro at 5 p.m. Friday.
Then the Indians will get three cracks at winless Milwaukie, with away games on May 7 and 9 and a home date on May 8.
Scappoose's final series is May 14-17 against Wilsonville.
If the Indians (3-8 in the NWOC) can win five or more of their closing seven games, they should be in the hunt for one of the conference's four Oregon School Activities Association playoff bids.
But Webb wants his team to "stay present" in the moment and not look at the standings.
"It's about making sure we're treating every game with full importance," Webb said. "Even within the game, if we make an error in the field, not letting that past memory impact the way we approach the next play.
"That's why baseball is such a challenging game. If we can pick each other up in those situations, then hopefully we can start ourselves out well."
Left-hander McMullen pitched well in the second game of the three-game set with St. Helens, but Scappoose simply didn't help the big southpaw enough defensively.
Anicker threw a complete game in the series finale and gave up only one earned run.
Connor McNabb bagged two base hits while Anicker, Gavin Larson and Jordan Buchanan each had a knock, with Larson driving in the Indians' only run of Game 3, in the top of the second.
Scappoose finished the finale at St. Helens with five hits, but Webb said not enough came at an opportune time. Only once did the Indians move a runner to third base with less than two out. The Indians had runners on first and second, trailing 3-1 in the top of the seventh, but Terrence Lewis was robbed of a base hit on an incredible stretch and scoop by St. Helens first baseman Justin Olson of a ball in the dirt to end the game.
It was a sobering way for the series to end, but the Indians were still alive and actively in a rivalry that was fully renewed this season, with Scappoose's jump from Class 4A to 5A.
"Hopefully it's something that makes us stronger," Webb said, "that when things don't go our way, we're conscious of how we respond and how we can turn that into a learning experience for ourselves.
"We have some pretty passionate kids on our team, and they're pretty rowdy to begin with. There was some good energy in the dugout. As long we bring that every game, I have a lot of confidence in this group."