Heartbreak, then triumph for McMinnville
TIGARD – The resilient streak of the McMinnville baseball team strikes again.
One day after suffering a 2-1, 10-inning, emotional loss at home to Class 6A Pacific Conference foe Tigard, the Grizzlies responded with a lockdown pitching performance by Kade Mechals and a revitalization of the offense in a 7-0 victory Wednesday.
“Our worry was, shoot, are they going to let that affect them?” Mac coach Jordan Harlow said. “So we challenged them (before Wednesday’s game). We were excited. We felt like, as a coaching staff, they were ready to go.
“We kind of had something to prove.”
McMinnville (8-2) racked up 11 hits on Wednesday, with the sophomore Mechals allowing just one to the Tigers (4-6, 1-1), to lead off the seventh inning.
“He did a nice job, he threw a lot of strikes, he kept hitters off balance with his breaking pitch,” Harlow said. “It was nice to see, I think he needed that.”
Travis Allen came on in relief and allowed a single baserunner on a walk to earn the save.
Mechaels’ performance came a day after Grizzlies starter Riley McAnally limited Tigard to one run on three hits in eight innings pitched Tuesday afternoon. McAnally struck out four and walked none but eventually received a no-decision for his effort.
“Our guys own what kind of player they are. And we emphasize that,” Harlow said. “If they come in and throw strikes, there are not too many teams we’re going to see that’ll take advantage of that.”
Of the six hits the Grizzlies amassed in the 10 innings Tuesday, one came from the No. 3, No. 4 or No. 5 hitters in McMinnville’s order. On Wednesday, those hitters – Adrian Uscanga, Sam Swenson and Cameron Fox – played a major role.
Uscanga hit a two-out triple in the first inning, and Swenson singled him in for the game’s first run. The junior third baseman repaid the favor with an RBI double in the second inning to score one of three runs.
Fox came up with the exclamation point in the fourth inning, hitting a two-run triple to plate Uscanga and Swenson.
“They kept hitting the ball hard and found the holes (in the defense),” Harlow said.
McMinnville began Tuesday’s game from behind after Tigard’s Bruin Campbell singled in Shane Rasor in the first inning. Zach Rhoads walked in the leadoff at-bat, advanced to third base on a pair of wild pitches and scored on an RBI groundout by Uscanga in response.
From there, the game evolved into a pitchers’ duel, as McAnally and Tigard starter Ray Barlow (seven innings pitched, six strikeouts) kept hitters off-balance.
“I liked our approach at the plate,” Harlow said following Tuesday’s contest. “We had a few too many flyouts or strikeouts. That’s what we talked about – putting pressure on the defense to make plays.”
In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Grizzlies did just that against Tigers reliever Tyler Walker, loading the bases with no outs. But Swenson grounded into a 5-2-3 double play and Lane Hessel grounded out to second base to end the inning.
Rasor hit an RBI single with two outs in the 10th inning off Mac reliever Ryan Dix to plate Nick Duron, giving the Grizzlies one last chance. Hessel singled with one out to provide a sign of life, but Wyatt Smith grounded into a game-ending double play.
“It hurts the guys. I know it hurts me a little bit,” Harlow said Tuesday. “But on the positive side, what a great game.”
McMinnville plays at Century today at 4:30 p.m. before hosting the Jaguars Monday at 4:30 at the McMinnville baseball field at Patton Middle School.