Two teams filling holes with players short on varsity experience this season met Friday afternoon as South Albany and West Albany renewed their rivalry on the baseball diamond.
West is a little further along in the experience department, with nine returning players from a 6A state quarterfinal squad last year. The Bulldogs pounded out 14 hits — six for extra bases — in a 16-0 five-inning Mid-Willamette Conference home win at Memorial Stadium.
Porter Phillips and Cody Wirth each had two hits and three RBIs for West (7-3, 2-1). Ezra Lopez had two hits and two RBIs. Caleb Beach also had two hits and Chase Reynolds two RBIs. Andrew Clinton and Ethan VanDelinder each had a hit for South (4-9, 0-3).
The teams meet again Monday at South to wrap up their two-game conference series.
The Bulldogs were playing just their fourth game in the last 17 days due to rainouts.
“I haven’t had opportunities to get guys in and see what they can do,” West coach Don Lien said.
He was able to play everyone Friday, including a few players looking to bounce back from some subpar performances against Central earlier in the week.
“We’re doing well,” said Beach, a senior shortstop. “We have a young team this year. But if we show up ready to go, we know can beat anybody. But sometimes we’re our own worst enemy and we beat ourselves.”
RedHawks coach Brad Kidd said he had several players step up, including Hudson Adams on the mound to record the last six defensive outs and others playing in unfamiliar positions.
“The kids worked hard. I’m pretty proud of them despite what the scoreboard said,” the coach said.
The Bulldogs scored nine runs in the first two innings, the first six off South starter Ryan Patrick, the RedHawks’ ace who was pitching for the first time in a few days since a hand injury.
West got seven more in the third as reliever Ethan VanDelinder hit three batters and struggled to get outs.
West has five seniors, all of whom were on last year’s state playoff team as first-year varsity players.
Beach carries significant experience as a second-year starter, lending to duties reserved for a leader.
“For most of my high school career I’ve been looking up to older guys. Now I’ve found it’s my turn to step into that leadership role,” he said.
The Bulldogs have a strong pitching trio in sophomores Luke Killinger, Simon Mathios and Reynolds. Lopez and DJ Krider are also valuable options.
Killinger got the start and went three innings Friday, allowing one hit and two walks with four strikeouts. Mathios and Lopez each pitched an inning, giving up a combined one hit and one walk with both striking out a batter.
Reynolds threw a complete game, allowing one hit while striking out 10 in a Tuesday win against Central.
“Chase Reynolds is throwing lights out for us,” Lien said. “He’s been rock solid and just getting better every week.”
For South, Aaron Thomas has been a strong starter along with Patrick, a fellow senior. Nic Sheley has also been a contributor as the RedHawks search for a consistent third starter.
South has been shut out in three straight games while facing good arms from Silverton and West and has scored two or fewer runs in six total games this season. But Kidd has seen progress.
“It’s hard to see the improvements when you don’t see the hits and runs, but guys are getting there,” he said. “I’m proud of them for grinding it out when you’re not seeing the hits, you’re not seeing the runs.”