(This article was originally published on JMcDonaldMedia.com)
By Jeremy McDonald
KEIZER, Ore.—Frustrations were there defensively to start the Willamette Classic Wednesday when Portland showcased their strong bats and aggressive basepath approach
Behind 18 hits and four stolen bases the Barbers made the Keizer Crushers work as they looked for a stop and an answer for the Portland bats Wednesday afternoon.
“It was rough right off the bat, we had a good first but then they scored every inning. We didn’t give us a chance on defensive end,” said Owen Bischoff. “I mean we put up six runs but we got to do a better job on the defensive end and pitching.”
In the first inning, Justin Herberger forced a groundball out and fly-out to end the inning after a quick pick-off move that got the first out of the game. By the second inning, the Barbers erupted for four runs in the top half of the second inning to set the pace for the reminder of the game.
The Crushers kept it close entering the sixth inning with their own bat production by getting runners on base with the score at 7-3 in favor of Portland with a sacrifice hit by TJ Crawford (second inning), Josh Benson scoring on an error (third inning), and Ty Covalt scoring off a fourth inning error.
But the Barbers put further distance between them and Keizer with four more runs in the top of the sixth inning with them continuing to find the open gaps. The Crushers couldn’t capitalize on opportunities given to them with their 10 hits and seven free bases in the contest in the 13-6 game to begin the Willamette Classic as they enter the second day of the tournament.
And with them playing later in the day Thursday, a 6pm game versus Lower Columbia, Wednesday’s game provides an opportunity to improve on the little things for Thursday’s game.
Defensively, the little things like communication with one another whenever the other team finds the open gaps in their defense.
“”I think it’s just the more little things like talking on defense. More communication through the field between cut-offs and I think that’ll cut down a little bit more on the runs,” said Jesse Sendlinger. “Cutting in instead of throwing to home when there’s a runner at third and then he’s advancing. Just little things that we just got to clean up and we’ll be all good.”
Offensively, most games that you get six runs and 10 hits would put you in contention of winning a game, but Keizer had opportunities to do further damage as well in Wednesday’s game with 10 runners left on base that included a bases loaded situation in the bottom half of the third that could have yielded more hits and/or runs on the board.
And in those moments, Bischoff mentions about getting that ‘clutch’ factor to do more damage in a shootout like Wednesday’s game was to stay on pace with their opposition starting when they get into the batter’s box.
“Just a little bit better approaches at the plate. Seeing the first pitch instead of being aggressive on a first-pitch curve ball and more timely hitting. We’re usually timely hitting inning-to-inning but more throughout the game,” Bischoff said.
Thursday presents itself with another day and another game to go out and play ball.