The Bruins began the most important three-game series of the season on Monday, hosting the Sutherlin Bulldogs, who they are currently battling for the third place in the league and an accompanying spot in the 3A playoffs.

The Bruins bested the Bulldogs in their first game on Monday with an early 11-1 win after seizing the lead early on, then brought the game to an early end when it was called due to a 10-point difference.

“We gotta win the series against these guys and then we’ve got the playoffs,” said Bruins head coach Tony Baron. “We’re fighting for third place with these guys, while Cascade Christian and South Umpqua are fighting for a spot, too.”

The first inning saw the Bruins grab the lead with two runs, with the Bulldogs following up in the second inning with a single run of their own to take things to 2-1. The Bruins then broke away in the third inning with four runs to take things to 6-1.

Capitalizing on their lead, the Bruins scored another three runs in the fourth inning and another two in the fifth, running the score up to 11-1 and ending things early with the game being called in the bottom of the fifth inning due to a 10-point difference.

Gracie Harms pitched the whole game and though she allowed a few runners on bases, managed to close nearly every inning before the Bulldogs could score any runs. She had 10 first-pitch strikes and seven strikeouts game.

Madison Taylor topped runs batted in for the Bruins when she hit a home run for three runs in the fourth inning.

“What stood out to me today was that we played good defense and made key plays when we had to,” Baron said. “Our pitching wasn’t quite where we needed to be, but Gracie (Harms) stepped up and got the strikeouts we needed.”

This game also served as senior night as the final home game for the Bruins lone senior player this year, Kayci Jones. Jones managed two RBIs in three at-bats.

The Bruin’s final two scheduled games of the season will be Friday when they travel to face Sutherlin. The Bruins need only a single victory to secure their spot in the playoffs for the first time in six years.

“We just need one game of the next two,” Baron said. “With the way these girls played today I’m confident we should be able to take the next two and then we’ll be sitting in the playoffs for the first time in six years.”

The Bruins are currently 10-14 overall this season and were last ranked No. 17 in the OSAA 3A rankings. In league, the Bruins are 4-6 in third place, behind South Umpqua in second at 9-1 and just ahead of the Sutherlin Bulldogs in fourth at 2-8.

The Bruins travel to play their final two scheduled games of the season against Sutherlin in a doubleheader starting at 3 p.m.

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