SALEM — Three Eugene pitchers held the Salem Withnell Dodgers to six hits over eight innings, but a pair of unearned runs proved costly as the Challengers lost, 4-2, in a nonleague American Legion baseball game Tuesday evening at Willamette University.
Taylor Frost pitched six strong innings against the Area 3 champions, allowing the four runs on five hits, walking three and striking out four. Will Stewart and Travis Boggs each pitched a scoreless inning in relief.
Catcher Dalton Pachano and first baseman Tanner Cantwell were 2-for-4 for the Challengers (27-20), while Dustyn Smith and Cantwell had RBI hits in the eighth inning for the Eugene runs. The Challengers’ next scheduled game is July 30 on the opening day of the state tournament in Grants Pass.
NOTES: A lingering injury limited pitcher Rowdy Huston to 2-and-two-thirds scoreless innings in the second game of the season, and he was not placed on the league/postseason roster. However, in limited opportunities to hit, the Marist grad has scorched the ball; he was 1-for-2 against the Dodgers, and finishes the season 9-for-16, .563, with three doubles, five RBI and just one strikeout. … The game was the Challengers sixth in four days, and second loss to the Dodgers in that span, including doubleheaders Sunday against the Titans and Monday at Grants Pass. … Dustyn Smith drove in a run with a pinch double. … .
CHALLENGERS SPLIT WITH NUGGETS TO FINISH SECOND IN AREA 4 (07.21.14)
GRANTS PASS — Taylor Frost broke a 3-3 tie with a booming two-run double in the top of the seventh inning and Jordan Thompson finished a complete-game victory by stranding the tying run at third base as the Eugene Challengers defeated Grants Pass, 5-4, in the opener an Area 4 American Legion baseball doubleheader Monday night at Agnew-Lytle Field.
The Nuggets won the nightcap, 8-6, but the split enabled the Challengers to clinch second place outright in the final Area 4 standings at 10-6, 27-19 overall. Grants Pass, which hosts the state tournament that begins here July 30, finished third at 8-8, 25-12 overall.
Thompson allowed nine hits, walking three and striking out two, and the Challengers backed him with a pair of double plays. David Bellamy was 3-for-4 for the Challengers and scored a run, while Justus Adams drove in a pair of runs with a single and a sacrifice fly.
In the nightcap, the Challengers scored three runs in the top of the first, but Grants Pass scored seven runs in the next four innings against two Challenger pitchers.
NOTES: The Challengers played error-free ball in the second game, snapping a string of 22 straight games with an error, though a passed ball allowed the Nuggets to score an unearned insurance run in the sixth inning. … Of the Challengers 16 league games, 7 were decided by one run, and five more by two runs. … Second-game starter Brandon Brancato walked five in 1-and-one-third innings, leading to four runs, and the Nuggets had six hits in two innings off reliever Drew Smernes to add three more; Tanner Cantwell pitched the final two-and-two-thirds innings, allowing an unearned run on one hit and striking out six against three walks. … Matt Land, Jalen Drath, Taylor Frost, David Bellamy and Justus Adams each had two hits in the nightcap.
CHALLENGERS SWEEP TITANS WITH LATE HEROICS (07.20.14)
Justus Adams’ third hit of the game, a two-out double in the top of the eighth inning, plated Jordan Thompson with the winning run as the Eugene Challengers defeated the Willamette Valley Titans, 2-1, to sweep an Area 4 American Legion doubleheader Sunday afternoon at South Eugene High School.
The Challengers, who got an RBI single by Taylor Frost in the top of the seventh to win the first game 5-4, are now 9-5 in Area 4 competition and have secured a berth in the State Tournament that begins July 30 at Grants Pass. Medford wins the regular-season at 12-4, while Grants Pass — which hosts the Challengers at 6 p.m. Monday in the final league doubleheader for both teams — is 7-7 and has an automatic berth as the host team.
The Titans, swept by Medford on Saturday, finish Area 4 competition at 3-13 (16-29 overall) and must travel to a four-team Super Regional starting Friday at a site to be determined to attempt to reach the State Tournament.
In the nightcap, the Challengers (26-18 overall) left 18 runners on base, but Adams’ hit made a winner out of lefty Austin Crowson, who pitched seven innings, allowing one run on three hits, striking out three and walking five. Drew Smernes pitched around a lead-off single by Rocco Ferrari in the bottom of the eighth to record his first save.
In the opener, Travis Boggs got the win, pitching 1-and-one-third perfect innings in relief of Justin Guldager, who had allowed only two earned runs. Frost had two hits and three RBI for the Challengers; his game-winner drove in Boggs, who had singled with two outs in the seventh.
NOTE: In his save, Drew Smernes gave up a lead-off single to Ferrari, but made a strong fielding play to force the swift runner at second on an attempted sacrifice; he then got the Titans’ No. 3 and No. 4 hitters, Gauge Hallett and Aaron Patterson, to take called third strikes. … Crowson is now 5-2 with an ERA of 2.47 and a WHIP of 1.03. … In stranding 18 runners in the second game, the Challengers left the bases loaded five times in the first six innings. … The Challengers committed three errors in the first game, leading to two unearned runs off Justin Guldager, and two more errors in the second. They have now committed errors in 21 straight games, a total of 54 errors in that stretch leading to 39 unearned runs.
CHALLENGERS FALL SHORT AGAINST SALEM WITHNELL DODGERS; REACH STATE TOURNAMENT (07.19.14)
The Salem Withnell Dodgers broke open a tie game with three runs in the top of the ninth, and rode a solid pitching performance by Alec DeHart to a 5-3 victory over the Eugene Challengers in a nonleague American Legion baseball game Saturday afternoon at Swede Johnson Stadium.
Meanwhile Saturday, the Medford Mustangs were sweeping the Willamette Valley Titans in an Area 4 doubleheader to clinch the regular-season championship at 12-4. The Challengers, 7-5 with four league games remaining, are now assured a berth in the State Tournament along with Medford and host Grants Pass (7-7), which gets an automatic berth in the double-elimination tournament that begins July 30.
However, the Challengers will be exempt from Super Regionals, which begin July 25; Roseburg (7-9) will host one Super Regionals, while the Titans (3-11) will travel to the Zone 2 Super Regional. Those are four-team tournaments in which the winner advances to State.
Saturday, DeHart pitched 8-and-two-thirds inning, allowing 12 hits and three walks. Reliever Gibson Hohberg got the final out for the Dodgers (23-18) after the Challengers scored once in the bottom of the ninth and brought the potential winning run to the plate.
The Challengers (24-18) got a strong start from Cameron Jack, who pitched six innings, allowing two runs on two hits. David Bellamy was 3-for-4 with an RBI for the Challengers, and Ben Renshaw, Andy Arruda and Rowdy Huston had two hits each.
The Challengers return to Area 4 action with a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Sunday against the Willamette Valley Titans at South Eugene High School, and conclude the league season with a doubleheader Monday at Grants Pass.
NOTES: With one nonleague game left, Tuesday at the Dodgers, the outing figures to be the last pitching appearance for the season for Cam Jack, who joined the team late and was not added to the league/postseason roster. In four games, Jack went 3-0, pitching 28 innings and allowing five earned runs, for an ERA of 1.61, on 16 hits. He struck out 24 and walked five. His WHIP was 0.75. … Tanner Cantwell pitched two shutout innings of relief, walking three and allowing a hit, but striking out the side in the seventh while leaving the bases loaded. … Travis Boggs made his first appearance at third base this season, playing five innings before giving way to Renshaw, who was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
CHALLENGERS RALLY TO SWEEP GRANTS PASS IN AREA 4 DOUBLEHEADER (07.17.14)
Matt Land drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Eugene Challengers a 5-4 victory over Grants Pass and a sweep of an American Legion Area 4 baseball doubleheader Wednesday night at Swede Johnson Stadium.
The Challengers, who won the first game 10-4, moved to second place in the Area 4 standings at 7-5 in league play and 24-17 overall, while the Nuggets dropped to 6-6 and 22-10. In Medford, the Mustangs swept Roseburg to solidify their hold on first place at 10-4.
The nightcap was a game of surprises. Because of injuries and illness on the Challenger pitching staff, Taylor Frost started for the second time this season and the first since June 21; he went six strong innings, allowing five hits and striking out eight and left with a 4-3 lead. That was a surprise, because the Challengers rallied from a 3-0 deficit against one of the state’s best pitchers, Nolan Bastendorff, with four-run fifth keyed by a bases-clearing bloop single by Jalen Drath and an RBI single by Travis Boggs.
Boggs, the Challengers’ closer, surrendered the lead in the seventh, but he led off the bottom of the seventh with a single, and a sacrifice, passed ball and a pair of intentional walks loaded the bases against Nuggets reliever Brandon Lupton.
Lupton induced Andy Arruda to hit into a force play at the plate for the second out, but on a 3-2 pitch Land reached base for the fourth time in the game, his third walk, to give the Challengers the sweep.
In the first game, another an untimely error by the Challengers, who have not played an errorless game since June 30, and who hurt themselves dearly with errors in being swept by Medford on Monday, opened the gates for a another big inning, as the Nuggets scored four unearned runs with two outs in the third inning to draw within a run at 5-4. This time, however, the Challengers never surrendered the lead, and pulled away for a 10-4 victory.
Right-hander Jordan Thompson pitched five tough innings to improve to 4-1. He struck out six, walked four, hit two batters and allowed four hits while laboring through 109 pitches. However, he pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth with a strikeout.
The Challengers, meanwhile, added two runs in the fourth when Travis Walcott tripled home Land, extending his hitting streak to 17 games, and scored on a wild pitch. (Walcott was 0-for-2 in the second game to end the streak.) The Challengers scored three more times in the sixth on three straight singles and three walks. Dustyn Smith and Boggs worked scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh respectively.
In the near-disastrous third for the Challengers, Grants Pass loaded the bases on an infield single and two walks. With two outs, an error at third by Frost allowed one run to score, and then Tanner Ryerson followed with a sharp line drive to left field that David Bellamy lost in the sun for a bases-clearing triple. Through the first game of the doubleheader, the Challengers had committed 19 errors in six games, leading to 23 unearned runs.
The Challengers next play on Saturday, hosting the Salem Withnell Dodgers in a nine-inning game at 2 p.m. A scheduled trip Thursday to play Klamath Falls Senior Babe Ruth was cancelled because of mechanical issues with the Challengers’ bus.
MEDFORD SWEEPS ERROR-PRONE CHALLENGERS IN AREA 4 DOUBLEHEADER (07.14.14)
The Medford Mustangs took control of the Area 4 league race Monday night, sweeping the error-prone Eugene Challengers, 12-5 and 7-5, in an American Legion baseball doubleheader at Swede Johnson Stadium.
The Mustangs, 21-11 overall, improved to 8-4 in league play, ahead of Grants Pass at 6-4 and Roseburg at 6-6, while the Challengers fell to 22-17 and 5-5, with six league games remaining.
In the first game, the Mustangs sent 15 batters to the plate in a 10-run fifth inning; Medford had nine hits in the inning off Challenger pitchers Brandon Brancato and Dustyn Smith, but two Challenger errors opened the floodgates for nine unearned runs.
In the second game, a two-out first inning error led to three unearned runs off Challengers starter Austin Crowson. The Challengers tied the game in the fourth, but Medford took the lead for good in the fifth, sending nine batters to the plate and scoring three runs despite hitting only one ball out of the infield.
NOTES: In addition to host Grants Pass, the top two teams in the Area 4 standings qualify for the state tournament; the last two teams would have to qualify by winning Super Regionals. … Travis Walcott extended his hitting streak to 16 straight games. … Taylor Frost, hitting No. 7, had two hits in each game. … David Bellamy was 3-for-4 in the second game and drove in three runs. … Brancato was starting on three days rest after illness shelved scheduled starter Drew Smernes. …
RENSHAW’S EIGHTH-INNING HIT SPARKS CHALLENGERS WIN (07.13.14)
Ben Renshaw’s two-out, two-strike single in the eighth broke an 8-8 tie and sparked a four-run rally that gave the Eugene Challengers a 12-8 victory over the Lewis Clark Twins in a non-league American Legion baseball game Sunday night at Swede Johnson Stadium.
Renshaw’s hit drove in Travis Walcott, whose two hits extended his hitting streak to 14 games, while Jordan Thompson scored from first when the ball was misplayed in leftfield. David Bellamy followed with a triple to drive in Renshaw and later scored on an error. The Challengers (22-15) had taken the lead with a five-run seventh, keyed by Matt Haney’s two-run triple, only to see the Twins (19-13) tie the score with two unearned runs in the eighth.
Challengers starter Cameron Jack got the win, pitching eight innings and allowing only three earned runs on seven hits. It was the first loss in Oregon for the team from Lewiston, Idaho, after four straight wins.
NOTES: In his 14-game hitting streak, Walcott is 19-for-39 with 15 runs scored and eight RBI; he stole two bases Sunday night. … Renshaw got down 0-2, fouled off a pitch, then drew two balls before his eighth-inning line-drive single to left. … Jalen Drath was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI. … Haney was 2-for-4 as the designated hitter. … Will Stewart worked a scoreless ninth, the Challengers turning a game-ending double play. … The game was the last of the Oregon road trip for the Twins, who previously defeated the Canyon Crushers, the Dirt Bags, Doc Stewarts and Corvallis.
CLUTCH SAVE FOR SMITH AS CHALLENGERS SPLIT WITH DOC STEWARTS (07.12.14)
ROSEBURG — Justin Guldager pitched five strong innings and reliever Dustyn Smith pitched two pressure-filled innings for the save as the Eugene Challengers defeated Doc Stewarts, 3-2, to split an American Legion Area 4 doubleheader Saturday evening at Legion Field.
Guldager allowed two runs on five hits and Stewart retired the Docs with the tieing run on third in the sixth inning and at second in the seventh as the Challengers improved to 21-15 overall and 5-3 in league play. The Challengers did all their scoring in the first inning, the key hit a two-run double by Taylor Frost.
In the first game, Oregon 2A/1A player of the year Jake Forrester outdueled Travis Boggs as the Docs (11-19, 4-6) won, 3-1. Boggs, making his first start after serving as the Challengers closer, took a no-hitter into fourth and allowed two earned runs on five hits. However, Forrester allowed only six hits, two each by David Bellamy and Travis Walcott, struck out nine, walked two and escaped a bases loaded jam with a game-ending strikeout in the seventh.
Dalton Pachano’s double drove in Bellamy with the Challengers’ only run.
NOTES: With one out in the seventh and runners on first and second, Smith fanned No. 3 hitter Chris Stone and got cleanup hitter Zach Wyscaver to fly to right to end the game. … The Challengers got three hits in the first inning of the second game, including two bunt singles, but managed just two hits over the last six innings against Roseburg’s Jacob Fricke. … The second game was a rematch of the first time the two teams met at Swede Johnson Stadium; in that game, Guldager took the loss in a 7-1 game in which he gave up 11 hits and in which Fricke allowed just four Challenger hits.
CHALLENGERS SWEEP TITANS IN AREA 4 DOUBLEHEADER (07.10.14)
Leadoff hitter Matt Land reached base six times and scored five runs as the Eugene Challengers swept the Willamette Valley Titans in an American Legion doubleheader on Thursday night at Swede Johnson Stadium, winning by scores of 7-2 and 4-3.
In the opener, Travis Walcott drove in four runs for the Challengers, three on a bases-loaded double in the second inning, and Jalen Drath tripled in two runs in the fourth. Jordan Thompson pitched five scoreless innings, allowing two hits with five strikeouts but walked six and hit a batter before Matt Haney finished up, allowing a pair of unearned runs.
Land walked his first three times up in the second game and scored each time for the Challengers (20-14 overall, 4-2 in Area 4). Jordan Thompson drove in two runs and Gus Isom and Andy Arruda each had two hits in the nightcap. Brandon Brancato picked up the win, allowing one earned run in 5 2/3 innings on four hits while striking out seven.
Michael Dougherty had four hits in the twin bill for the Titans (10-23, 1-7) who stranded 23 runners in the two games, five times leaving the bases loaded.
NOTES: Travis Boggs got the save for the Challengers in the second game. … With the sweep, Todd Zeigler has 201 wins as the Challengers head coach. Earlier this season, he passed Marty Lees (185) for second on the all-time Challenger list. Garry Selby, for whom the field at Swede Johnson Stadium is named, won 907 games in his storied tenure.
CHALLENGERS FALL TO MARKETMEN IN NONLEAGUE CONTEST (07.09.14)
The Corvallis Marketmen tied the game with five unearned runs in the seventh and scored two runs on wild pitches in the ninth inning to defeat the Eugene Challengers, 10-8, in an nonleague American Legion baseball game Wednesday night at Swede Johnson Stadium.
The Challengers (18-14) outhit the Marketmen (23-9) 13-6, but left 13 runners on base and committed five errors, three in the seventh.
The Challengers got another strong start from Austin Crowson, whose scoreless streak ended at 24 innings, but who left the game after six innings with an 8-3 lead, having allowed two hits and striking out six. Jordan Thompson was 4-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI for the Challengers.
NOTES: Gus Isom had two hits and a sacrifice fly and drove in two runs. … Travis Boggs and Matt Land also had two RBI each. …
JACK, SMERNES PITCH CHALLENGERS TO SWEEP OF KLAMATH FALLS SBR (07.09.14)
Cameron Jack tossed his second straight complete game, a three-hitter, leading the Eugene Challengers to a 7-1 victory over Klamath Falls Senior Babe Ruth and a sweep of a nonleague doubleheader Tuesday night at Swede Johnson Stadium.
Jack struck out six, walked none and surrendered an unearned run as the Challengers improved to 18-13. Tanner Cantwell was 3-for-3 with a double and RBI and scored a run, and David Bellamy was 2-for-3 with a double, two RBI and a run.
In opener, Drew Smernes took a shutout in the seventh inning and settled for a 6-3 complete-game win. He struck out six, walked one and allowed 10 hits.
The Challengers, meanwhile, recorded 12 hits, two each by Gus Isom, Bellamy and Travis Walcott, who had two RBI.
NOTES: In addition to his double, Cantwell hit a ball that was caught against the wall in right, and another that would have been a double but for a base-running blunder by the Challengers. … Justin Guldager had a pinch-hit RBI single in the second game. … Jack needed just 88 pitches, and took a one-hitter into the seventh. … A late scoring decision changed a two-out infield hit against Smernes in the seventh to an error, rendering the runs against him unearned.
PAPA’S PIZZA INVITE FINALE: CHALLENGERS FALL IN SEMIS; SHOWTIME PREP WINS TOURNEY (07.06.14)
The Eugene Challengers forced the Portland Barbers to throw their best pitcher in relief Sunday in the first semifinal of the 39th annual Papa’s Pizza Invitational American Legion baseball tournament at Swede Johnson Stadium.
Unfortunately for the Challengers, lefty Cole Stringer, who will be a senior at Central Catholic High School and has made a verbal commitment to pitch at the University of Oregon, was more than up to the task, pitching five shutout innings and leading the Barbers to a 7-4 victory and a berth in the championship game against Showtime Prep from southwest Washington.
That game went extra innings, with Showtime (30-9-1, and 4-2-1 in the tournament) scoring two runs in the top of the 10th against the third Barbers pitcher and holding on for a 7-5 victory, after the Barbers (31-2, 6-1) had scored in the bottom of the sixth to take the lead and in the bottom of the seventh to tie.
Stringer, who threw 121 pitches and struck out 10 in leading the Barbers to an 8-2 win over Toyota Baseball in their tournament opener Wednesday, entered Sunday’s game against the Challengers in the third inning, after Eugene (16-13, 3-3) scored four runs in the second, knocking out starter Ryan Kaser and knotting the game at 4-4.
Over the next five innings, Stringer was virtually untouchable, retiring the side in order four times, striking out six and walking one. The Barbers gave him the lead with a three-run third off Challengers starter Tanner Cantwell, the big hit a two-run single by Gabe Scanlon.
The Challengers’ only threat against Stringer came in the fifth, when they loaded the bases with none out on a walk, a bloop single by Travis Walcott — the only hit against Stringer — and an error. But Stringer struck out Challengers cleanup hitter Jordan Thompson and Tayor Frost, and retired David Bellamy on a groundout to end the inning.
In the other semi, Showtime defeated Capital City Select, 6-3. Lefty Joel Worden, who Wednesday pitched a complete game four-hitter in a 7-3 win over the Northwest Stars, went the distance again for Showtime. He allowed five hits, struck out five and walked none as Showtime defeated Capital City (18-9, 5-1) for the third time this season. The Capital City runs, unearned, came on a three-run homer by Jace Duty in the sixth.
For his efforts Worden was named the oustanding pitcher in the tournament, allowing just one earned run over two games and striking out 13, against three walks, in 14 innings. Teammate Alec Chaney was named tournament MVP, while Portland’s Jay Rogers was named the top hitter, and shortstop Taylor Travess of the Three Rivers Sandblasters was named the top defensive player.
In the fifth-place game, Toyota Baseball defeated the Sandblasters, 8-3, dropping the Florence-area team to 3-13-1 and 1-4-1 in the tournament. Travess hit a first-inning solo homerun for the Sandblasters. Ryan Teegarden was 2-for-3 with a homer and double for Toyota (20-12, 2-4).
PAPA’S PIZZA INVITE DAY FOUR RECAP: CHALLENGERS REACH SEMIS (07.05.14)
After losing earlier in the evening, the Eugene Challengers needed to defeat the Northwest Stars to reach Sunday’s semifinals of the Papa’s Pizza Invitational American Legion baseball tournament, and did so, 10-1, Saturday night at Swede Johnson Stadium.
The Challengers (16-12, 3-2 in the tournament) face the Portland Barbers (30-2, 5-0) in the first semi at noon. Capital City Select (18-8, 5-0) will face Showtime Prep (28-9-1, 2-2-1) in the second semi at 2:30 p.m., with the championship game slated for 5 p.m. The fifth-place game at 9:30 a.m. will match Toyota Baseball (19-12, 1-4) against the Three Rivers Sandblasters (3-12-1, 1-3-1).
In eliminating the Stars, the Challengers got a come-through start from right-hander Justin Guldager, who pitched a complete-game four-hitter. Leading 2-0, the Challengers scored seven runs in the fourth, sending 13 batters to the plate with six hits. Jalen Drath was 3-for-5 for the Challengers with a run scored and two RBI.
Earlier, the Challengers lost 7-3 to Capital City, which sent 11 batters to the plate in the top of the first inning against starter Brandon Brancato, pushing across five runs on five hits. Thereafter, Brancato worked three shutout innings, and reliever Dustyn Smith kept Capital City off the board until two outs in the seventh, when Josh Palmquist homered. Harrison Reece went the distance for Capital City, scattering eight hits, including two doubles by Taylor Frost.
In other games, the Willamette Valley Titans (9-18, 1-4) needed a win or tie to reach today’s fifth-place game, but fell short, falling 13-11 to the Barbers. With the No. 1 spot in their division, and a berth in the semis, already clinched, the Barbers started a lineup laden with backups, substituted freely and had their hands full with the Titans.
Led by catcher Gauge Hallett, who hit three doubles and drove in three runs, the Titans pounded 16 hits and took advantage of seven Barbers errors to score six unearned runs. Every Titans starter had at least one hit, and Austin White, Devin Curtis, Michael Dougherty, Alec Cook and Brad O’Connor had two each against four Barbers pitchers.
Earlier Saturday, the Sandblasters took four leads against Showtime but couldn’t hold any of them, finishing in an 8-8 tie when the game ended because of the time limit. The Sandblasters took an 8-7 lead with two runs in the top of the seventh when Andrew Sharp doubled and scored when Brad Snow reached second on a sacrifice bunt and throwing error.
With one out, centerfielder Sam Johnson lined a triple to drive in Snow with the go-ahead run, but the Sandblasters couldn’t get him home. Back came Showtime in the bottom of the seventh, tieing the game when Trevor Wharton blooped a one-out single and scored from first when Johnson allowed James Brooks’ single to get through him for an error. One out later, Brooks tried to score the winning run on Jake Dennis’ single to right, but was thrown out at the plate to end the game.
Showtime 3, Toyota Baseball 2: Relief pitcher James Brooks got a pressure-packed save for game-winner Matt Olstead as Showtime kept its Sunday hopes alive in the first game of the day. After Toyota (19-12, 1-4) pulled within a run in the bottom of the sixth, Brooks came on with the bases loaded and two outs to strike out a Toyota pinch hitter. In the seventh, after a hit batter, an error and a sacrifice put the tieing and winning runs on third and second with one out, Brooks got a strike out and groundout against Toyota’s No. 3 and cleanup hitters to end the game.
PAPA’S PIZZA INVITE DAY THREE RECAP: CROWSON THROWS SHUTOUT (07.04.14)
With fireworks exploding with color and noise beyond Swede Johnson Stadium in the Fourth of July night, and in front of an enthusiastic crowd, the Eugene Challengers staged their own pyrotechnics, defeating the Willamette Valley Titans, 7-0, Friday in the 39th annual Papas Pizza Invitational American Legion baseball tournament.
The Challengers got another strong pitching performance, as lefty Austin Crowson followed Cameron Jack’s Thursday night complete-game win over Toyota Baseball with a four-hitter, striking out eight and walking three. In improving to 4-1, Crowson tossed his second consecutive shutout, and he has not allowed a run in his last 21 and two-thirds innings spanning five games.
Offensively, the Challengers score in five of the seven innings, with 10 hits, two each by Travis Boggs, who drove in three runs; by Taylor Frost, who scored twice, doubled, drove in a run and played flawlessly at third base, and by Travis Walcott, who twice stole home on the back end of attempted double steals.
The Challengers (15-11, 2-1) in the tournament, face Capital City Select and the Northwest Stars on Saturday in their quest to make Sunday’s semifinals. The Titans fell to 9-17 and 1-3 in the tournament.
Earlier Friday, the Titans batted around twice, and needed to do that, to win their first game in the tournament, 13-9, over Showtime. They scored five times in the top of the first inning, but trailed 9-6 after four innings, with seven of those runs unearned, a result of six Titans errors.
However, the Titans took advantage of three Showtime errors to score six runs in the fifth inning, just two of them earned. It wasn’t as if the Titans weren’t making solid contact — they rapped 17 hits, with every starter getting at least one. Catcher Nick Guy was 4-for-4 with a double and three RBI, and Lincoln Casarez was 3-for-4 with a double and drove in two runs.
The winning pitcher was Erik Severson, who pitched the final four innings, allowing three unearned runs in the fourth and shutting out Showtime (27-9, 1-2) on one hit the rest of the way.
The other local team, the Three Rivers Sandblasters from the Florence area, lost twice Friday to fall to 3-12 for the season and 1-3 in the tournament.
In their first game, the Sandblasters mustered only two hits, and none after the first inning, in falling 8-4 to the Northwest Stars, who won for the first time in the tournament after three losses and improved to 12-6 overall.
Stars starter Justin Adams pitched five strong innings, allowing just one earned run, and helped his cause with a two-run homer. Shortstop Taylor Travess was the catalyst for the Sandblasters, reaching base in all four at-bats on a hit, two walks and an error and scoring three runs.
In the Sandblasters’ second game, the Portland Barbers improved to 29-2 overall and 4-0 for the tournament with a 7-4 win. The Barbers had eight hits in the game, all for extra bases — four doubles, two triples and a pair of homers. The first homer, a two-run blast by Skylar Johnson, tied the game at 4-4 in the fourth inning. The second, a three-run shot by Tyler Parker in the fifth, was the game-winner.
Travess had one of seven hits for Three Rivers, scoring one run and driving in another.
Capital City Selects 12, Toyota Baseball 4: The Selects pounded 14 hits, three each by Roger Ingram Jr. and Josh Palmquist, who scored four runs, to improve to 4-0 in the tournament and 17-8 overall, while Toyota dropped to 1-3 and 19-11. Selects shortstop Jordan Barchus was again impressive as a relief pitcher, allowing one hit and no runs in two-and-one-third innings. The game was delayed for almost 20 minutes after a Toyota Baseball player, Joe Done, was hit in the face by a foul ball while standing on the rail in the third base dugout. Paramedics examined him and he was allowed to remain at the field.
PAPA’S PIZZA INVITE DAY TWO RECAP: JACK PITCHES CHALLENGES TO WIN (07.03.14)
Righthander Cameron Jack, in his first start of the season for the Eugene Challengers, pitched a seven-inning four-hitter, leading the Challengers to a 4-1 victory over Toyota Baseball in the Papa’s Pizza Invitational American Legion baseball tournament Thursday night at Swede Johnson Stadium.
The Marist grad, who delayed joining the Challengers for his fourth season until late last month as he worked out his choice of colleges — he will pitch at Division II St. Martin’s University — struck out eight, walked none and hit a batter while throwing 97 pitches; Toyota’s only run was unearned.
Travis Boggs gave the Challengers (14-11) the lead in the first with a two-run single, and singles by Matt Land and Jalen Drath produced two more runs in the fourth.
The two other local teams, the Willamette Valley Titans and Three Rivers Sandblasters, lost late-inning heartbreakers.
The Titans (8-16, 0-2 in the tournament) scored five runs in the top of the seventh to take an 8-7 lead over Toyota Baseball, only to surrender two runs in the bottom of seventh, 9-8. A bloop single and a pair of throwing errors enabled Toyota to tie the score and a bunt single and intentional walk loaded the bases, whereupon Jake Kargl was hit by a pitch to force in the winning run.
The Sandblasters, who defeated the Challengers on Wednesday night, proved to be a tough out again, falling to the Capital City Selects, 5-4, in eight innings.
The Florence-area team (3-10) got a valiant start from pitcher Renton Poole, who pitched around five Three Rivers errors and shut down Capital City (16-8, and 3-0 in the tournament) from fifth through seventh innings after allowing single runs in the first four frames. The Sandblasters tied the game with two in the fifth, and loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh with one out. However, Selects relief pitcher Colton French induced an inning-ending double play, and, after the Selects pushed across a run in the eighth, French retired the side in order to end the game.
Other games Thursday:
Portland Barbers 5, Showtime 4 — The Barbers erupted for three runs in the bottom of the seventh, with shortstop Jay Rogers driving in the winner with a single to right after singles by Alec Dehnert and Zach Chitwood and a double by Robby Heiberg. Lane Evans went the distance for the Barbers, allowing just one baserunner after the fourth inning.
Portland Barbers 8, Northwest Stars 3 — Lefty Kevin Lave became the third Portland pitcher to record a complete game victory as the Barbers improved to 28-2 overall. Lave also singled twice and scored two runs, while Jay Rogers was 3-for-4 with three RBI. The Stars lost for the third time in the tournament and fell to 11-6 overall.
PAPA’S PIZZA INVITATIONAL DAY ONE RECAP: CHALLENGERS FALL TO SANDBLASTERS (07.02.14)
The first day of the Papa’s Pizza Invitational American Legion baseball tournament provided one dramatic upset, and it was the Eugene Challengers falling, 5-3, to the Three Rivers Sandblasters at Swede Johnson Stadium on Wednesday night.
Behind a complete-game performance from Taylor Travess, the Sandblasters won for just the fourth time in 13 games this season, while dropping the Challengers to 13-11. They took advantage of uncharacteristic wildness by Challengers starter Jordan Thompson, who walked seven in four-and-two-thirds innings, and rallied from a 3-1 deficit with three runs in the fifth and an insurance run in the sixth against top reliever Travis Boggs.
The nemesis for the Challengers was Travess, who reached base four times on two walks and two hits, including a triple, and scored twice, and Zach Inskeep, who drove in two runs.
On the mound, Travess never allowed the Challengers to break the game open — he got the third out of an inning with a Challenger on third base in the first, third, fourth, fifth and seventh innings, twice escaping on double plays, including the game-ender.
Thompson was 3-for-4 for Eugene and Taylor Frost drove in two of the Challengers’ three runs.
Earlier Wednesday, a dominant effort of relief pitching by Jordan Barchus led the Capital City Selects, from the Salem area, to a 7-3 win over the Willamette Valley Titans (8-15) in the tournament opener.
Barchus, who began the game at shortstop, moved to the mound with one out in the first inning after the Titans had scored two runs and had runners on base; he induced a lineout double play and then allowed just one unearned run on three hits over the next six innings. Barchus struck out two, walked none and threw just 57 pitches.
Capital City broke the game open with a five-run fourth, the runs all unearned. The big hit was a three-run double by catcher Justin Wakem.
In other games Wednesday:
* Capital City improved to 2-0 in the tournament and 15-8 overall with a 10-0 six-inning win over the Northwest Stars of the east Portland area. Jordan Horak pitched a two-hit shutout, fanning eight and walking two, and Barchus highlighted a clinching six-run sixth with a three-run homer over the rightfield fence.
* Joel Worden struck out nine, scattered four hits and allowed only one earned run as Showtime (27-7), from southwest Washington, forged a 7-3 win over the Northwest Stars (11-5).
* The Portland Barbers, arguably the pre-tournament favorites, improved to 26-2 with an 8-2 win over Toyota Baseball (18-10). Lefty Cole Stringer went the distance for the Barbers, allowing seven hits while striking out 10 and walking four. First baseman Kevin Lave was 3-for-4 with three runs scored for Portland. Austin Holm hit a solo homer for Toyota, from the Seattle area.
CHALLENGERS RALLY FOR SPLIT WITH DIRTBAGS (06-30-14)
Jordan Thompson’s two-out RBI single in the fifth, his second hit of the game, capped a three-run rally that propelled the Eugene Challengers to a 5-4 victory over the Post 20 Dirtbags and the split of a nonleague American Legion doubleheader Monday night at Swede Johnson Stadium.
The Dirtbags took a 4-0 lead after two innings against Challengers starter Brandon Brancato. However, Brancato was dominant from that point; he faced the minimum of 12 batters over the next four innings, allowing only one hit (and picked that runner off first), to pick up his first win of the season. He struck out seven and walked two. Travis Boggs pitched a perfect seventh for his second save of the season, lowering his ERA to 0.79.
Meanwhile, the Challengers (13-10) scored twice in the second and parlayed four singles, a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly into the fifth-inning rally. The rally started when catcher Gus Isom hit a sharp single to center, the first of his two hits. Courtesy runner Dustyn Smith was sacrificed to second by Matt Haney, and held there when Matt Land blooped a single to center. Travis Walcott followed with a single that was misplayed by the leftfielder, allowing Smith to score and Land and Walcott to reach third and second. Jalen Drath followed with a sacrifice fly to center to score Land to tie the game 4-4, and Thompson then hit the first pitch he saw for a single to drive in Walcott and give the Challengers the 5-4 lead.
The Dirtbags won the opener, 7-1, as Logan Hatley and Cole Peterson scattered seven hits.
NOTES: University of Oregon baseball coach George Horton attended the games, as did LCC coach Josh Blunt. … Drew Smernes singled and score a run as the DH in the second game. … Jalen Drath hit his eighth double of the season and scored the Challengers’ only run in the first game on a single by Jordan Thompson.
CROWSON TWO-HIT SHUTOUT LIFTS CHALLENGERS TO SPLIT (06.29.14)
STAYTON — Austin Crowson pitched a seven-inning complete-game two-hitter and Rowdy Huston went 4-for-4 as the Eugene Challengers defeated the Canyon Crushers, 6-0, to split a nonleague American Legion doubleheader Sunday at Regis High School.
Crowson, who has not allowed a run in 14-and-two-thirds innings over his last four appearances, struck out four and walked three as the Challengers improved to 12-9. Crowson needed just 88 pitches to win his third game of the season.
Huston, the designated hitter, drove in two runs.
The Challengers lost the opener, 8-7, despite a five-run seventh. Travis Boggs and Matt Land each had two hits and two RBI for Eugene.
NOTES: It was the Challengers’ first games since the doubleheader at Medford after a series of rainouts. … With Klamath Falls being dropped from Area 4, the Challengers’ league record is now 2-2. … Longtime Challenger Cameron Jack has rejoined the roster and made his season debut as a pinch runner.
CHALLENGERS SPLIT DOUBLEHEADER WITH MEDFORD (06.24-14)
MEDFORD — Jordan Thompson pitched a complete-game seven-inning four-hitter to lead the Eugene Challengers to a 3-1 victory over the Medford Mustangs in the first game of an American Legion Area 4 doubleheader Tuesday night at Harry & David Field.
Thompson, who took a shutout into the seventh, struck out three, walked none and hit a batter to improve to 2-0. All three Challenger runs were unearned, with Travis Walcott and Jalen Drath drawing bases-loaded RBI walks in the seventh. David Bellamy had two of Eugene’s four hits.
Both Challenger scoring rallies began with two outs and the bases empty.
The Mustangs (10-3, 5-1) won the nightcap, 2-1, in nine innings. Brandon Brancato took a no-hitter into the sixth for Eugene (11-8, 4-2), but the Mustangs strung together three singles to tie the score and force extra innings.
With the Challengers leading 1-0 in the sixth, Medford designated-hitter Micah Brown broke up the no-hitter with a clean single to center, just after Eugene third baseman Taylor Frost had extended it with a great backhand stop behind the bag and throw to retire Eric Carlson. Jared Evans then blooped a single to right to send Brown to third, and Josh Berman rolled a single just past Frost to tie the game at 1-1.
Brancato walked four and struck out two. Travis Boggs took over to pitch the seventh, and escaped a bases-loaded jam when Carlson hit into a double-play. Medford threatened again in the eighth before winning in the ninth on a double, a bunt single, an intentional walk and, after Boggs struck out Austin Zavala for the first out, a ground-ball single by Carlson through the drawn-in infield.
Travis Walcott and Jalen Drath each had two hits for the Challengers. Andy Arruda drove in Eugene’s only run with an infield out that plated Taylor Frost, who singled in the fourth, advanced on Bellamy’s sacrifice bunt and took third on a wild pitch.
NOTES: Playing rightfield in the first game, Travis Boggs made another sensational diving catch, this robbing Austin Zavala of extra bases. … Walcott’s RBI walk in the first game came in a nine-pitch at-bat in which he fouled off three two-strike pitches.
GULDAGER PITCHES EC PAST NW STARS (06.22.14)
VANCOUVER, Wash. — Justin Guldager pitched a seven-inning complete game three-hitter as the Eugene Challengers defeated the Northwest Stars College Prep team, 9-0, to split a nonleague American Legion baseball doubleheader Sunday at Clark College.
Guldager struck out three, walked three and hit a batter and was backed by errorless defense. Travis Walcott led a 14-hit Challengers offense with three hits, two runs scored and an RBI.
The Challengers (10-7) lost the second game, 8-6, despite outhitting the Northwest Stars 11-5.
NOTES: Right-fielder Travis Boggs made a sensational over-the-shoulder catch in deep right to rob Hank Elliott of extra bases in the first game. … Saturday, Boggs had taken a hit away from Elliott by gunning him out at first base on a one-hop liner to right. … In the loss, diving catches by NW Stars outfielders of well-struck liners took hits away from Hank Isom and, with two outs and two on in the fifth, from Tanner Cantwell.
CHALLENGERS SWEEP NW STARS TEAMS (06.21.14)
GRESHAM — Taylor Frost pitched a seven-inning complete-game two-hitter and didn’t allow an earned run as the Eugene Challengers defeated the Northwest Stars College Prep team, 10-1, to sweep a nonleague American Legion baseball doubleheader Saturday at Barlow High School.
Frost struck out six and walked four as the Challengers improved to 9-6. David Bellamy drove in three runs with three hits, including a double, and Justus Adams added two RBI with a pair of doubles.
In the first game, Drew Smernes scattered six hits over six innings, striking out five, walking one and allowing only one earned run, as the Challengers defeated the Northwest Stars Legion team, 8-2. Jalen Drath had a double and three RBI for the Challengers.
NOTES: The Challengers were 7-for-7 in stolen bases in the first game. …. Gus Isom had two hits and drove in two runs in the second game, and threw out a runner trying to steal second.
CHALLENGERS SWEEP KLAMATH FALLS (06.20.14)
The Eugene Challengers gave the fledgling Klamath Falls Falcons a rough welcome in their return to Area 4, sweeping an American Legion baseball doubleheader, 30-0 and 35-1, Friday night at Sheldon High School. Both games were shortened to five innings.
n the opener, the Challengers (7-6, 3-1) sent 30 batters to the plate in the first inning, to score 24 runs on 17 hits and six Falcons errors. Taylor Frost and Jalen Drath homered for Eugene, which finished with 25 hits; Travis Walcott was 3-for-3 with six RBI.
In the second game, the Challengers put up 17 runs in the first inning on nine hits and eight errors; Justus Adams drove in seven runs for the Challengers with a single, double and triple, and Matt Land was 4-for-4 with five runs scored and six RBI.
Austin Crowson, one of four Challenger pitchers to work the doubleheader, got the win in both games, pitching a combined six perfect innings with 13 strikeouts.
NOTES: Matt Land was 7-for-8 in the two games…. The Challengers had six doubles and three triples in the opener, in addition to the two homers. … The Challengers didn’t commit an error, nor issue any walks. … In both games, every Challenger starter had at least one hit… Rowdy Huston had two doubles off the bench in the first game.
CRUSHERS SWEEP CHALLENGERS (06.19.14)
Three pitchers combined on a four-hit shutout as the Canyon Crushers defeated the Eugene Challengers, 3-0, to sweep a nonleague American Legion baseball doubleheader Thursday night at Swede Johnson Stadium.
Crusher pitchers Travis Klampe, Conner Gilham and Antonio Camacho put on a clinic as they combined for six strikeouts against no walks, required only two outfield putouts and didn’t allow a runner to reach second base until Jalen Drath doubled with two outs in the seventh.
Justus Adams had two of the hits for the Challengers (5-6), who got a strong start from Matt Haney, who allowed three runs on six hits, struck out eight and walked one in 6.1 innings of work.
In the first game, the Crushers prevailed 7-5 behind the strong pitching of Chemeketa right-hander Ben Johnson, who allowed six hits, but none in the second through sixth innings, a stretch in which he retired 12 straight batters at one point, and 15 of 16.
After the Crushers took a 4-0 lead in the first off Eugene starter Tanner Cantwell, the Challengers answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning, but didn’t threaten again until the seventh, when singles by Ben Renshaw, Gus Isom and Jalen Drath plated two runs and brought the tieing run to the plate. However, Johnson struck out David Bellamy, who had doubled earlier, to end the game.
Cantwell, touched for four hits in the first inning, settled down and worked through the sixth inning, allowing all seven runs, six earned, on eight hits, with five strikeouts against three walks.
NOTES: In the first game, Ben Renshaw led off the seventh with a single to cap a nine-pitch at-bat in which he fouled off five two-strike pitches. … The Challengers face Klamath Falls in Area 4 doubleheader Friday at Sheldon High School.
BOGGS, CANTWELL LEAD WIN OVER DOC STEWARTS (06-17-14)
Stellar relief pitching by Travis Boggs and timely hitting by Tanner Cantwell led the Eugene Challengers to a 5-3 win over Doc Stewarts of Roseburg and a split of an Area 4 American Legion baseball doubleheader Tuesday night at Swede Johnson Stadium.
In the second of two-seven inning games, Boggs pitched five innings for the win, allowing just one unearned run. That came in the seventh inning, when Boggs’ sixth strikeout, against two walks, ended the game with the bases loaded. Cantwell was 3-for-3 for the Challengers (5-4, 1-1) and drove in three runs.
Doc Stewarts (1-7, 1-1) won the opener, 7-1, as left-hander Jacob Fricke allowed just four hits and one run over six innings. Right-fielder Jake Forrester led a 12-hit Roseburg attack with three hits; he scored two runs and drove in another.
NOTES: Roseburg starter Jake Forrester left the second game after just one inning with an apparent arm injury. Forrester was the state 2A player of the year for Umpqua Valley Christian. … Eugene starter Jordan Thompson was removed after just two innings. … Boggs has yet to allow an earned run in eight innings this season, with a win and a save.
DRATH, STEWART KEY WIN OVER ROCKETS (06-16-14)
Jalen Drath drove in four runs with four hits and Justus Adams hit a solo homerun as the Eugene Challengers rallied to defeat the Mid-Valley Rockets, 10-7, in a nonleague American Legion baseball game Monday night at Swede Johnson Stadium.
Trailing 6-5, the Challengers (4-3) scored four times in the seventh, taking the lead on singles by Andy Arruda and David Bellamy prior to a two-run single by Drath. Eugene got an insurance run on Adams’ first homer as a Challenger in the eighth.
The winning pitcher was reliever Will Stewart, who inherited a based-loaded, no-outs situation in the sixth and escaped by inducing a popup and double play, and then held the Rockets scoreless until Mid-Valley added a run in the ninth. In his four innings, Stewart allowed two hits, walked three and struck out three.
SMERNES SHUTOUT LEADS CHALLENGERS PAST BARBERS (06-15-14)
Drew Smernes pitched a seven-inning complete game shutout as the Eugene Challengers defeated the Portland Barbers, 6-0, in the second game of a nonleague American Legion baseball doubleheader Sunday at Swede Johnson Stadium.
In handing the Barbers (13-1) their first loss of the season, Smernes struck out five, walked three and allowed just six hits. He was backed by a pair of double plays and errorless defense.
The Challengers (3-3) staked him to a 5-0 lead in the second inning on two walks, two hit batters and just two hits — RBI singles by Travis Walcott and David Bellamy — and added another run in the fifth on an RBI double by Jalen Drath.
In the opener, the Barbers jumped to an 8-0 lead after three innings en route to a 10-4 victory behind 15 hits. Drath drove in three Challenger runs with a pair of doubles.
IN PREVIOUS GAMES:
* The Challengers began their season with a split with the Willamette Valley Titans, winning 6-3 behind the pitching of Justin Guldager and losing 14-2.
* In a major early season win, the Challengers defeated the Fairfield, Calif., Expos, 6-2, in a nine-inning game behind six strong innings from Jordan Thompson and three innings of shutout relief from Travis Boggs. Taylor Frost had three hits and two RBI, and Andy Arruda added an RBI double.
* A late rally fell short as the Challengers couldn’t overcome issuing 12 walks and lost 8-7 at Corvallis. Thompson had two of Eugene’s five hits.