CENTRAL POINT — One run was good enough to get the best of Crater’s baseball team on Tuesday, but the Comets were determined not to let that happen again when they fell behind 1-0 in the fourth inning of Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader against Churchill at Anhorn Field.
Thanks to a quick answer and a five-hit pitching effort by sophomore Jacob Memmott, Crater was able to secure a 5-1 triumph in the opener at Anhorn Field.
The Comets, however, were unable to come away with a Midwestern League sweep and series victory after a series of unfortunate events helped pave the way for the Lancers to take Game 2, 18-8 in six innings.
“This (Crater) program’s very prideful, they do a good job and they’re well-coached,” said Churchill head coach Kenny Niles, whose team beat the Comets in last year’s Class 5A state championship game. “We knew after just beating them 1-0 (on Tuesday) it was going to be a dogfight, and it was.”
Memmott wasn’t overpowering but he was very effective in slowing the Lancers in the opener, striking out five with no walks and one hit batter.
“Jacob threw the ball well today,” said Crater head coach Jay Campbell. “He kept the ball down and was able to keep them off balance.”
Churchill (10-7, 7-5 MWL) scrambled its way to a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth when Cole Wilkinson singled, went to second base on a wild pitch and scored after another wild pitch led to a low throw by catcher Ike Gilliland that ricocheted off the glove of third baseman Trae Frodge and gave Wilkinson enough space to break for home.
Undaunted, Crater (12-5, 8-4) battled back as senior standout Larson Kindreich singled off Churchill starter Kyle Lund and was moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by senior Nick Bastendorff. After going 0-for-3 against the Lancers on Tuesday, Frodge didn’t miss his chance for redemption as he followed with an RBI double to left field to tie the game.
“I was just trying to help my team out and get the job done,” said Frodge, who finished 2-for-3 with one run and two RBIs. “I didn’t want to end up like last time not doing the job so I just focused on getting the ball in play.”
With two outs and two strikes on him, sophomore Trever Davis came through with a go-ahead RBI single to plate Frodge as Crater built a 2-1 advantage.
“The kids responded well,” said Campbell. “Obviously we gave them a run that just was kind of ugly, but we bounced back and we answered with a couple there and that was a big shift in momentum.”
Crater tacked on three insurance runs in the fifth inning, with Tyler Williams and Kindreich scoring after Bastendorff’s high flyball to center fielder Wilkinson was dropped. Frodge followed with an RBI single to put the game out of reach.
For all that went right for Crater in the opener, the nightcap was seemingly the opposite as Frodge took the mound but had to be removed after only seven pitches due to tightness near his elbow and triceps.
Frodge had given up a leadoff single to Wilkinson, a sacrifice bunt by Kellar Edwards (a senior transfer from Ashland) and then hit Trevor Groves before being replaced by junior Ethan Scott, who was not at his best with the limited pitching notice. The Lancers took advantage by scoring four runs on only two hits with two walks and two hit batters in the first inning.
“We caught a little bit of break with their pitcher having to come out and the other guy wasn’t warm yet,” said Niles, “but as you could see it still wasn’t enough. It’s 4-0 and I’m back in the dugout kind of kicking rocks going, ‘Gosh, I don’t think it’s going to hold up.’ And obviously we’re 18-8 as a final so that says something.”
Churchill led 10-0 before Memmott broke through with an RBI single for the Comets in the third. A four-run fourth inning closed the gap to 11-5 and gave hope for a comeback, but the Lancers notched seven runs in the sixth inning and then held off Crater in the bottom half of the frame to end the contest early.
“We didn’t quit but we just kind of ran out of arms in that third game and just weren’t able to stick around,” said Campbell.
Kindreich finished 4-for-4 with three doubles, three runs and three RBIs for Crater in Game 2, while Bastendorff was 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs and the Comets got one hit and one RBI apiece from Frodge, Memmott and Davis.
Wilkinson combined to go 4-for-7 with three runs and three RBIs to pace Churchill, with Lund going 3-for-5 with two runs and three RBIs in Game 2. Lund had grown up in the South Medford system — his father Eric still serves as a Panthers assistant coach — before hockey pursuits took him to Eugene a few years ago.
Churchill 000 100 0 — 1 5 3
Crater 000 230 x — 5 8 1
Lund and Jones; Memmott and Gilliland. W — Memmott (6-0). L — Lund (1-2). 2B — CH: Wilkinson; C: Frodge, Dance.
Crater 460 107 — 18 10 3
Churchill 001 403 — 8 11 4
Lydon, Groves (4) and Jones; Frodge, Scott (1), Lacey (3) and Gilliland. W — Lydon (1-2). L — Frodge (1-2). 2B — C: Kindreich 3, Bastendorff, Kulpa.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry