The Bruins faced the Sutherlin Bulldogs on Thursday for their final league game of the season, narrowly taking a clean 3-0 in the series after a close final game.
The first game of Thursday’s double-header was a clean-cut shutout win for the Bruins at an unopposed 10-0. The second game however saw the Bulldogs latch on to a potential win and refuse to let go as the game went three innings into overtime before the Bruins finally wrapped things up at 5-4 in the 10th.
“It’s never easy. It’s always gonna be a grind. You have to respect every moment of every game,” said Bruins head coach Keith Wallin. “That was a heck of a ball game with a heck of a pitching staff, but this was fun to be a part of. I’m proud of our guys, I really am.”
The first game had the Bruins open with a single run by Jason Vanginderen in the first inning before widening the gap in the second with another four runs driven in by Adam Shew and Vanginderen, taking things to 5-0 going into the third.
The Bulldogs couldn’t find their footing as neither team managed to find home plate during the third inning, only to have the Bruins close things with two runs in the fourth and another three runs in the fifth. Things wrapped up there as the game was called at the end of the fifth inning because of the 10-0 difference and a shutout from Shew as the pitcher.
Shew and Andrew Burger topped runs batted in for the Bruins with two each, while Kleespies was the top hitter with three total. Shew pitched a shutout over five innings, with 14 first-pitch strikes and nine total strikeouts.
The second game was more tense as neither team managed to score in the first inning before Burger managed a single in the second to give the Bruins a small lead. It was short lived however, as the Bulldogs scored in the second inning to tie things up at 1-1 before the Bruins rebutted in the fourth inning with Kleepsies scoring another run to give them the lead at 2-1.
The fifth inning saw the momentum sway in the Bulldogs favor as they scored a big three runs to take things to 4-2. The Bruins fought tooth and nail to earn another single run in the sixth inning to take things to 4-3, with things coming down to the line as they just managed a single
run in the seventh to tie things at 4-4 and drive things into overtime with extra innings.
The eight and ninth inning came and went with neither team managing to score. The Bruins managed to load the bases, but couldn’t quite close it.
When the 10th inning finally came about, the Bruins managed to shut down the Bulldogs in the top before loading up the bases once again in the bottom. With the bases loaded, Roman Worthey took a hit, earning the team their final run and bringing things to a close at 5-4 in the Bruins favor.
Vanginderen pitched most of the game at five innings, brining in a total of 17 first-pitch stikres and six strikeouts. Andrew Burger filled in the other five innings, earning himself 12 first-pitch strikes and two strikeouts.
Burger earned the most RBIs for the Bruins with two, while Peyton Armentour earned a total of three walks and Kleepsies topped QABs at five.
While their standing was already decided, the Bruins are now the official league champions at 15-0. Overall, they are also undefeated outside of tournaments this season at 24-1, breaking Brookings-Harbor High School’s record for most wins in a baseball season, which was previously 23 wins from the 1995 team and matched by the 2007 team.
The Bruins are currently ranked No. 2 in the OSAA 3A rankings, which would allow them to host each playoff game up until finals if they can maintain it, a notable advantage considering the distance to travel to compete with other 3A teams from as far as Portland.
“We’ve got a week to get ready and we’re really going to utilize that to get better,” Walln said. “When we get to the playoffs, just like this game, anything can happen. We’ll take that week off before we continue to push and really enjoy the ride.”
The Bruins play again next Wednesday when they travel to take on Lost River, a 2A team from Klamath Falls. The Bruins will play away at neutral St. Mary’s in Medford starting at 4:30 p.m. After that, the Bruins host Hidden Valley, a 4A team, on Friday before preparing for playoffs the following week.