Laboring through a close game with little offense on a chilly and wet afternoon, Philomath High School's baseball team needed to find a way to pull out a victory Wednesday over rival Newport.
The Warriors had been struggling at the plate with no runs through the first five innings. Meanwhile, Newport was able to push a couple across the plate for a 2-0 lead.
Finally, the bats came alive in the sixth for a four-run outburst and the Warriors took a 4-2 victory to remain unbeaten in the Oregon West Conference.
"The first five innings weren't looking too promising as far as our approach at the plate," PHS coach Levi Webber said. "But that's what can happen when you compete and that's what I told them at the end of the game. If you compete from pitch one to the last pitch, out one to the last out and inning one to the last inning, if you do that, then good things will happen."
Juniors Marshall Brattain and Brooks Stearns had key back-to-back doubles that drove in the first three runs to give Philomath the lead. Brattain also believes confidence at the plate played a role in the big inning.
"We all hit really good on Monday (7-0 win over Newport) and I was feeling pretty confident. I just wanted to hit the ball hard," said Brattain, who in the fourth despite getting out, connected on a hard line drive to center field. "Because whenever one person does it, it usually carries on throughout the lineup. I just wanted to put a good swing on it."
Newport senior Kye Blaser had Philomath's number through those first five innings, allowing one hit in the second and two in the fifth while pitching a shutout.
"We were swinging and missing a lot of things and we had a lot of looking strikeouts, too," Brattain said. "We just kinda got on each other and tried to encourage each other and focus on having more aggressive at-bats and swinging at pitches we know we can hit."
And that's what happened in the sixth. Nolan Jackson, who had put in an exceptional effort on the mound, got things going with a lead-off single through the right side of the infield. Brooks Stearns followed with a single to left field to set the stage for Brattain's double to the wall in left-center.
Conner smacked a double to left to drive in Brattain for a 3-2 lead. Dylan Bennett kept it going with a single to score Conner. All four runs were scored with no outs.
Philomath's pitching continued to produce positive results with Jackson delivering his latest solid effort. Newport managed just three hits off Jackson, who walked five and struck out 12.
"Our pitching's been really, really good this year, better than I remember since I've been in high school," said Brattain, who himself is part of the starting rotation with Jackson and Conner. "If we keep that up, we're going to be hard to beat, especially if we keep pulling out runs when we need them like we have been."
Added Webber, "To pickup what we did on the mound with our bats was good to see."
Newport took advantage of walks to build the 2-0 lead. In the third, Trenton Luckini worked a walk, advanced two bases on an error and scored on a Jacob Dobmeier double. In the sixth, Jacob Riley singled and then Aidan Leavitt walked to prompt Webber to go to his bullpen. Jackson's arm had to be tiring with 111 pitches thrown.
Brandn Vogler took the ball and had a shaky start with back-to-back walks, the latter forcing in a run with the bases loaded. An unassisted double play on a line drive to Brattain at third base ended the inning, however.
In the seventh, Vogler struck out the first two batters and allowed a walk before the game ended on a ground ball that was handled by second baseman Michael Slater.
"I enjoy playing them," Brattain said about Newport. "My brothers when they were playing, they had a big rivalry with Newport so it's pretty cool to keep playing against them. They're usually pretty tight games, too."
Newport dropped to 2-11 overall, 1-4 in the conference. The Warriors are now 8-3 overall, 5-0 in league play. The two teams are scheduled to play again Friday on the coast with the first pitch set for 3:30 p.m.
Philomath 4, Newport 2
Wednesday at Philomath
NEWPORT (2-11, 1-4) 001 001 0 — 2 3 0
PHILOMATH (8-3, 5-0) 000 004 x — 4 9 1
DP—Newport 0, Philomath 1. LOB—Newport 9, Philomath 5. 2B—Brattain, Conner.
Newport 5, Philomath 0
Wednesday at Philomath
Team notes: Philomath's JV record dropped to 2-3 in league play, 2-6 overall. ... The team is scheduled to play Friday at Newport.