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Bruin baseball — Experience of a lifetime playing at U of Oregon

Cold, rainy weather caused several delays and stoppages but had no effect on the Bruins as the Brookings-Harbor High School baseball team tied the first game and then won the second game of a marathon double header against the Tillamook Cheesemakers at PK Park at the University of Oregon this past Friday.

“I’ve never once heard them complain about the conditions,” said BHHS head coach Keith Wallin. “That says a lot about character; it didn’t faze our guys one bit.” 

Game 1: BHHS 3, Tillamook 3

The Bruins jumped to an early lead by plating all three of their runs in the top of the third inning. 

Bruin outfielder Alex Darger reached base on a dropped third strike and was followed by infielder Justin Murray’s walk. Bruin catcher Izak Ehlers strode to the plate and continued his stellar start to the season, belting a double to centerfield to score Darger. Outfielder Ronnie Manley followed with a line-drive single to right field, scoring Murray and Ehlers.

Not to be outdone, Tillamook began to chip away at the lead, scratching across runs in the third and fourth innings to keep the score close at 3-2.

The rain came in the fifth inning, causing a lengthy rain delay. When play resumed, both Bruin and Cheesemaker pitching staffs shut down opposing offenses in the fifth and sixth innings. 

Down 3-2 with two outs in the seventh inning with the tying run on third base Tillamook pitcher Matt Strang’s hard ground ball found its way into right field, tying the game at 3-3.

The rain started coming down again; the umpires decided to call the game at that point rather than playing extra innings and possibly losing the opportunity to play game two of the double header.

Game 2: Tillamook 0, BHHS 6

Another long rain delay kept game two from starting on time, but it didn’t affect the Bruin bats as they erupted for five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to down the Cheesemakers, 6-0 under the lights at PK Park.

Leading 1-0, BHHS infielder Christian Hooper racked a bases-loaded double to centerfield, plating three runs. Hooper’s clutch hit was followed by outfielder Patrick Holmes’ single, moving pinch runner Brandon Chandler to third. Tillamook pitchers then committed three balks, scoring both Chandler and Holmes to put the game out of reach for the Cheesemakers.

On the mound, starter Ronnie Manley and reliever Justin Murray combined for the complete game shutout, allowing just two hits and overcoming a combined nine walks by making key pitches to get out of jams. They were helped by the likes of Ehlers, who threw out three would-be base stealers in the game. 

Ehlers leads the team in several offensive categories. He is batting .467 with two home runs and five RBIs. He has only struck out once in the six games the Bruins have played.

The offense is something Wallin is hoping improves, as his team is only batting .207 in the early going. 

“If we can get the middle to the bottom of the order hitting, we will be fine,” said Wallin. “They carried us in that second game and their bats are starting to come around.”

“I know we haven’t peaked yet and I know we haven’t played our best baseball, which is fine because we don’t want to peak now, we want to peak in May.”

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