By Robert Husseman • Sports Editor • 

Beavers knock out Hyder Family Dental

With the go-ahead run on second base and Hyder Family Dental’s Oregon Independent Baseball Association playoff hopes on the line, Grizzlies coach Jordan Harlow did not hesitate to hand the ball off to Nathan Leid in relief of Adrian Uscanga.

Leid is a rising sophomore at McMinnville High School who spent the 2014 spring season on Mac’s freshman team. It would be his first time pitching against Beaverton; the Grizzlies did not see either the high school team or the OIBA team until this past weekend’s OIBA playoff series.

But here were the Beavers, having loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh inning with no outs and Hyder tenuously holding onto a 5-4 lead. It was up to Leid to help the team out.

Leid induced Calvin Krech of Beaverton to fly out; the sacrifice allowed a runner to score from third base. The next batter, Kevin Watson, laid down a successful squeeze bunt along the first-base line that allowed Rob Valentine to score from third base and end the Grizzlies’ summer season with a 6-5 Beavers victory.

The best-of-three series began with a Friday doubleheader at the McMinnville baseball field at Patton Middle School, with a third game in Beaverton scheduled if necessary. The Grizzlies fell to the Beavers, 6-1, in the opening game and had to think far beyond the seventh inning of the second game for a chance to play in the OIBA state tournament.

“That’s nothing we can shy away from. There’s no question that we kind of had to keep game three in the back of my mind,” Hyder Family Dental coach Jordan Harlow said. “We couldn’t burn out all our pitchers. That put us in a tough spot.

“Adrian’s been solid for us all year. He’s not a normal pitcher; this is kind of a new thing for him. I’m happy with his performance. He’s competitive. Nate, he came in on short notice. Been solid for us all year. He just didn’t have his best stuff. They executed a nice squeeze play, and that happens. That’s baseball.”

The second game was tougher to accept because the Grizzlies (10-14) scored five runs off the Beavers in the second inning to take a 5-0 lead. Beaverton responded with three runs in the bottom of the third inning and three in the bottom of the seventh inning, including Watson’s successful walk-off squeeze.

“I think both sides kind of coasted a little bit (after the second inning),” Harlow said. “Our at-bats weren’t quite as good; we couldn’t put enough base runners on. That ended up hurting us.”

Hyder Family Dental was already playing from behind after a difficult first game in which Beavers starting pitcher Cody Cornwell effectively asserted himself.

Cornwell did not allow a hit until the sixth inning; he struck out nine batters in the complete-game victory, including the first four batters he faced.

“He had decent velocity but the big thing was he had a good off-speed pitch,” Harlow said. “That kind of threw our guys off. We haven’t seen a lot of guys that can control an off-speed pitch.”

After David Brosius walked with two outs in the sixth inning, Kyle Casey tagged Cornwell with his first hit, a single to center field. Walter Stahl, Hyder Family Dental’s next batter, connected on a single to center field, scoring Brosius and tying the game at 1.

“Luckily, on the first hit, I was trying to go for the first pitch because he threw fastballs,” Stahl said. “I got a good piece of it.”

Stahl had come to the pitcher’s mound in relief of Grizzlies starter Garrett Scales (five innings pitched, five hits, one earned run, five strikeouts) with an opportunity to further advance the team’s cause. Instead, he was tagged for five runs, including a three-run double by Beaverton’s Tobey Brown that put the game out of reach.

“Pitching,” Stahl noted, “didn’t go so well.”

The 11-man roster Hyder Family Dental used against Beaverton included Geovanni Esparza, Lane Hessel, Brad Hessel, Jesse Ehrhart and Riley McAnally.

“We had a lot of guys that came up from the Futures team and they pitched in and helped out in the summer,” Casey said.

The win-loss record notwithstanding, Harlow noted individual growth from the players who competed during the summer.

“I’ve kind of said it all year, but offensively I was certainly pleased with the guys,” Harlow said. “We have a certain mentality that we build and we have certain drills that we do to develop that. I think the guys really did a nice job with that. Defensively, we were up and down, pitching we were up and down.

“This group, it was nice to see young guys that hadn’t seen a lot of time come up and make good adjustments against varsity-level pitching. We always strive and want to get to that state tournament, but even when we come up short I think that that was a positive piece to take for it.”

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