SHERIDAN – In the increasingly tight race to the upper echelons of Class 3A West Valley League baseball, Willamina got a boost at the expense of rival Sheridan.
Luis Estrada went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI single, and the Bulldogs took advantage of defensive miscues by the Spartans in a 5-2 victory Tuesday at Sheridan High School.
Horizon Christian and Dayton are presently the class of the West Valley League, but Willamina (3-9, 2-2 WVL) catapulted itself into a tie for third place with Amity and Gervais following the victory. Sheridan is alone in last place at 0-4 (4-8 overall).
“It’s a good 2-2 start,” Bulldogs coach Cliff Toney said. “I’ll take it.”
Bulldogs pitcher Dylan Blakley went the distance, striking out nine, walking one and hitting two. Blakley allowed an RBI single to Sheridan’s Noah DiSabatino in the second inning, but a shortstop error that plated Andrew Glynn was all the Spartans could muster.
At the top of innings, Willamina supported him well.
“We hit the ball better than we have all season,” Toney said. “We needed that. Dylan threw his face off. We need to give him runs.”
Estrada’s RBI single and run on a shortstop error gave Willamina a 2-0 advantage early. Tyson Healon doubled in the fourth inning and scored on a pinch-hit RBI single by Tyler Culp, and wild pitches allowed for two more Bulldogs runs.
Sheridan pitcher Matt Bushbaum also went the distance, allowing eight hits and five walks while striking out eight.
“Matt threw well,” Spartans coach Todd Peterson said. “Early miscues, passed balls really hurt us.”
Peterson, who lost starting second baseman and leadoff hitter Boone Meyer to mononucleosis last week, continues to search for answers as Sheridan dropped its seventh consecutive game after a 4-1 start.
“It’s unfortunate,” Toney said. “I love Todd. He’s a great coach. They’re that close.” Toney held his fingers a half-inch apart.
For now, the numbers say that Willamina is closer.
Willamina hosts Amity today at 5 p.m. Sheridan hosts Gervais today at 5 p.m.