Tigers clip Warriors in opener
Yamhill-Carlton was scheduled to play at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Central, while Amity plays at 4:30 p.m. today at Harrisburg.
The Tigers (1-0) trailed Amity (0-1) 7-4 going to the bottom of the sixth inning. Sophomore Austin Martin led the charge with a walk and one out in the inning when Zach Rhodes came to the plate. Rhodes connected with a fastball from Amity pitcher Alex Hetrick on a 2-1 count and sent the ball into the left field gap for an RBI triple. Tanner Martin came up next and didn’t have to do anything. Hetrick threw a ball that catcher Aaron Eakins couldn’t catch, and Rhodes scored from third bringing the Warriors lead to 7-6 with one out.
Amity made a pitching change and handed the ball to Brett Hilt. After striking out Cody Stokes, Hilt walked James Bisset and Job Weidner. Both advanced to second and third on another passed ball by Eakins.
The pressure was on for Yamhill-Carlton junior Jacob Wood.
Wood persevered through a tough at bat and took a 2-2 fastball from Hilt and hammered it into the gape in center field, scoring Bisset and Weidner and giving the Tigers an 8-7 lead.
“We’ll take it. It wasn’t pretty,” Yamhill-Carlton coach Brett Brunner said of the dramatic win. “There was a lot of errors, but we did a lot of things very well. Our theme of the week was preserve.
“You just keep grinding and grinding and life will reward you if you keep grinding.”
Woods’ game-winning two-RBI double was his only hit of the game after two strikeouts and a flyout to center field. Wood admitted he had a bad day and wasn’t happy with his performance until his final at bat. He said after a poor start, he had to do a considerable amount of talking to himself and psyching himself up while at the plate during that final at bat.
“I was struggling the whole game,” Wood said. “I just kept saying ‘I’m a good hitter and I have to persevere.’ It was our word of the week and it was what I was trying to do.”
Hitting wasn’t the only spot where Yamhill-Carlton had to persevere.
Pitching was a big question mark for the Tigers, Brunner said. Rhodes started and held a 2-0 lead through two innings, but the Warriors struck back in the third, all with two outs. Eakins took a 2-1 fastball from Rhodes and put it in the fur trees out beyond left field, cutting the Tigers lead in half. Hetrick followed Eakins’ home run with a double and scored the tying run on a Yamhill-Carlton throwing error to third.
Amity’s biggest inning came in the fourth.
Hilt began the inning with a walk and a steal. Brian Zadnick hit a ball to Austin Martin, but Martin overthrew the ball and Hilt scored while Zadnick advanced to second base. After another throwing error to third, Zadnick scored from second giving the Warriors the 4-2 lead. Leadoff man Brandon Bockmeier followed that by hitting a deep fly ball to left that was dropped and allowed Nelson to score Amity’s third run of the inning for the 5-2 lead.
“We struggled playing catch today which gave them more runs,” Brunner said. “Pitching wise — we have to throw more strikes. We can’t compete with other 4A schools if we can’t throw strikes.”
With an 8-7 lead in the top of the seventh, Brunner turned to his closer, which is a perseverance story of its own.
Tanner Myrick is a freshman, but he has the highest-pressured pitching position on the team. In his first appearance of his high school career, he faced the ultimate save situation: the one-run lead.
Myrick blew through the Warriors’ three hitters like he was a senior. He forced Hilt to fly out to first, Zadnick to fly out to third, and he struck Nelson out to close the door on Yamhill-Carlton’s comeback win.
Myrick said the first-game save situation was a nerve wracking experience.
“Yeah — it’s really tough on varsity,” Myrick said. “I was nervous. Just knowing I had to close the game out for us for a win. I just had to keep working through it and rely on my teammates out there.”