The education of a summer baseball team continues in Scappoose.
The Indians, playing their first year as a member of the Oregon Independent Baseball Association, have been more competitive against some teams than others.
But they are having more and more moments that show promise for the future.
In particular, they've showed the ability to battle, to fight back and to force other teams to play well to beat them.
The latest example came Tuesday night at Scappoose. In an intermittent drizzle, the Indians spotted McMinnville four runs in the top of the first inning, then came right back with four of their own in the bottom of the frame.
Scappoose went on to take on 5-4 lead, and the game was tooth and nail the rest of the way — or until the visiting Grizzlies got to a depleted Scappoose pitching staff for five runs in the sixth en route to a 10-5 victory.
"Good game," said Scappoose's Cameron Webb, who took over the high school program last season. "We played a solid game. McMinnville just hit the ball well all day.
"We didn't have quite enough, but it was a clean and competitive game. We were pressing the issue on the bases."
Those are among the main things Webb wants to see as he tries to groom the latest batch of prospective Scappoose High players for the challenges they'll face in the 2020 season and as they try to move up in the Class 5A Northwest Oregon Conference standings.
The Indians finished 6-20 overall and 5-13 in the NWOC last spring. They generated only 97 runs in 26 games. Webb hopes a continued emphasis on being aggressive will help them be much productive down the road.
And playing that type of baseball offensively is one of his key goals for the Scappoose OIBA the rest of the summer season.
"We want that to be the way we're known for playing baseball," he said. "We want to be men of action and really put pressure on the other team and not just take what is given to us but be aggressive and be willing to make aggressive mistakes.
"It's running the bases hard and being willing to maintain that, attacking pitches early in the count, or whatever."
It's a mentality, he said.
And it's what the Indians were able to do when they came to bat in the first inning against McMinnville, and it's how they were able to so quickly erase a 4-0 deficit that might have been deflating to other young teams.
"It was really cool to see our guys battle back like that," Webb said.
Ben Anicker led off for Scappoose and got aboard on an error. Then Luke McNabb hit a ball to the left side and into left field that resulted in Anicker flying to third base and McNabb able to take second.
"That was great base running, and it was exactly what we're trying to get our guys to do — put pressure on the other team," Webb said. "So now all of a sudden we've got second and third and nobody out."
Tyler Souvenir blooped a ball into right field to score a run.
Brett Krieger, with two strikes on him, whacked a ground-rule double to the left field fence.
Andrew Darco had an RBI groundout, and Thomas Greiner smashed a triple before the inning was over.
Greiner came up big on the mound for the Indians as well. He proceeded to shut down McMinnville the next three innings as Scappoose's starting pitcher.
Not bad for a guy who hadn't even been playing high school baseball.
Greiner, who was playing Indians football and basketball, intends to do three sports next school year as a senior.
He got the Bears out quickly in innings two through four on Tuesday and left with a lead.
'He gave us a chance to win," Webb said.
Webb says he also liked the defensive play at shortstop of Jack Duschka.
A fluke injury to pitcher Michael Bates had cut into Webb's pitching options. Bates was sitting out with a concussion, the coach said, after being hit by accident during practice.
"And we had a couple other guys with their arms hanging," Webb says of a staff that had been asked to go in six games over an eight-day span.
Playing that often did have its benefits, however. Webb said the Indians are learning through all the repetitive game action.
"We've improved a lot since the spring," he said, "and we've even improved in the last week."
The Indians, who hope to play about 25 games this summer, played their first of only four league games last Friday, and fell at home 12-7 to 6A Southridge of the Metro League.
Krieger was a standout in the Southridge game. He worked four innings on the mound and ripped a three-run home run that gave the Indians a 4-3 lead.
Last Sunday, Scappoose played host to Wilson, a well-established summer baseball and baseball program in Portland. The nonleague doubleheader gave the Indians added experience and the chance to use everyone.
"We got good pitching performances from Luke McNabb, Jack Duschka, Noah Packineau and Malcolm Harrison," Webb said.
Next for Scappoose's OIBA team is a league game at Putnam at 6 p.m. Tuesday and a nonleague matchup at Scappoose with a combined Hillsboro/Forest Grove team at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The Indians then will go to their only tournament of the summer. They will play three games a weekend fest hosted by Columbia River High in Vancouver, Washington. Scappoose's first game in the three-day tourney will be against Hood River Valley at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, July 12.
So, "class" is still in session for the Indians.
And, even in summer defeat, "the kids are having a lot of fun," Webb said.
"I have told our guys again and again," he added, "that wins and losses do not matter in summer ball. Right now, it's all about game experience and the team aspects and setting our mentality."
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