Brookings-Harbor High School shortstop Justin Murray's two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the fourth inning broke a 1-1 tie and senior Wyatt Aldrich pitched a complete game as the Bruins extended their winning streak to five games with a 5-1 win over the Douglas Trojans at Douglas High School on Tuesday evening.
Bruin head coach Keith Wallin attributes much of the team's success during the win streak to getting the details right.
"You gotta put pressure on their defense and you have to do that by putting the ball in play, whether it be by bunt, by ground balls or by sacrifice flies; you gotta put the ball in play and we've done a much better job of that the past two weeks," he said. "Part of that is going up to the plate with an aggressive mindset on the first pitch. The first couple weeks we didn't hit enough first pitch strikes and now we're doing that. We are also doing a better job of hitting with runners in scoring position and that's been huge for us."
Tied after each team scored a run in the first inning, Murray strode to the plate with Aldrich on third and Chandler Dodd on second with two outs in the fourth inning. He then laced a single off Trojan pitcher Tylan Stoffal, scoring both Aldrich and Dodd and giving BHHS the lead at 3-1, a lead they would never relinquish.
The Bruins would add a few more insurance runs the following inning on run-scoring singles by Christian Hooper and Brandon Chandler, staking starting pitcher Wyatt Aldrich to a 5-1 lead, which was more than enough for the senior right-hander.
Aldrich scattered five hits, allowing no earned runs, and surrendered no walks while striking out 11. In 32 innings pitched this season, the Bruins' ace has allowed just one earned run for an eye-popping 0.22 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. Aldrich also has 50 strikeouts compared to just 13 walks, spearheading a pitching staff that sports a 1.93 team ERA.
"During the off season I did a bunch of work, with towel drills and things like that, to make sure I threw more first pitch strikes and more strikes in general," said Aldrich of his success on the mound. "If nobody gets on base my defense feels more relaxed because there is less pressure on them to make a play."
The win brings the Bruins' overall record to 7-2-1 and 4-0 in the highly competitive Far West league. BHHS is tied with Siuslaw for first place in the league, with North Bend nipping at their heels with a 3-0 league record. The Bruins know they have a big road test ahead of them, as they face Siuslaw on Tuesday followed by a double header at North Bend on Friday.
"The next three league games are going to really show where we stand. I don't think they necessarily decide our season but I think they'll show if we are working hard enough and where we need to be," said a straightforward Wallin. "If we can go and play well against those teams, regardless of outcome, that's going to set us up to achieve what we want to achieve this year."
Catcher Izak Ehlers, the team's leading hitter this season, says that it's important to focus on one game at a time and not look too far ahead toward important league games.
"We just prepare to be the best baseball team we can be," he said. "Getting a chance to play a quality team like North Valley before we have important league games against Siuslaw and North Bend allows us to really play to our potential."
Special thanks to KURY Radio, gamechanger.io, and Amanda Aldrich for providing game coverage and stats.