Ryan Sparks
Curry Coastal Pilot

Brookings-Harbor high school catcher Izak Ehlers belted two home runs and pitcher Wyatt Aldrich threw five shutout innings as the Bruins blanked the Gold Beach Panthers, 4-0, in Monday afternoon's season opener at Brookings-Harbor High School.

"We came out with authority; we wanted to come and make a statement," declared Ehlers after the game. "We're here, we're ready to play ball and we've been working our butts off for it."

Ehlers, who also scored three runs and stole two bases in the game, drove Panther pitcher Dustin Carter's 0-2 pitch deep over the left field wall in the bottom of the first inning to open the scoring and send Bruin fans to their feet. He then drove another drive over the left field wall in the bottom of the third inning for his second round-tripper in as many at-bats.

"Honestly, I didn't know if either would go out," admitted Ehlers. "If I can swing the bat like that all year then it's going to be a good year."

The Bruin pitching staff was equally impressive. Aldrich found himself in an early jam by giving up a single and a walk to two of Gold Beach's first three hitters. Carter, the Panther clean-up hitter, then singled to center-field, but Panther lead-off hitter C.J. Maxwell was thrown out at the plate by an excellent relay from Bruin center fielder Ronnie Manely to second baseman Brandon Chandler, who then threw to Ehlers at home to keep the Panthers off the scoreboard.

That was the only two hits Aldrich would allow as he settled in to strike out 10 batters over five shutout innings. Bruin righty Christian Edwards relieved Aldrich and pitched an impressive two scoreless innings in his varsity debut.

"I think it was just jitters. It was the first outing and he was a little nervous" said Ehlers regarding Aldrich's performance in the first inning. "He's the best pitcher on our team and he then came out and shut them out for five straight innings."

The Bruins added two insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth inning as Ehlers, who was hit by a pitch, and Aldrich, who walked, scored on consecutive wild pitches, completing the scoring at 4-0.

"This win was a big motivator for us," said Ehlers. "We had zero errors, got a shutout and we came out and did everything we wanted to do."

Ehlers, whose brother Adam played on the 2007 team - the last Bruin team to win a league championship - added that this team's goal is to outdo his brother's team.

"I want to go further. I want to be better than that. We want to be 2014 state champions," he said.