Prep Baseball: Roseburg rallies — twice — to sweep past Grants Pass

April 3, 2018 GMT

It was back to typical Southwest Conference baseball Monday afternoon for the Roseburg Indians.

That meant a grueling test of find-a-way-to-win.

And the Tribe did just that against Grants Pass in a doubleheader delayed for nine days by rain and spring break. Roseburg rallied late in both games to secure a 6-4 and 10-6 sweep at Bill Gray Stadium at Legion Field.

“I would call it a couple of hard fought victories,” RHS coach Troy Thompson said. “There was nothing easy about what happened at the field (Monday). To come out with two victories was a good thing for our kids.”

By sweeping G.P., the Tribe (7-1, 3-0 SWC) retained a share of first place in the conference with Sheldon — although the Irish will be in action today while RHS rests on a bye — and sets up an important doubleheader with South Medford on Saturday in Medford. S.M. did not play Monday, but the Panthers (4-3, 1-0) do host Sheldon (6-3, 3-0) today in a single game.

On Monday, Roseburg got solid pitching efforts from starter Zack Mandera in Game 1 and from reliever Jace Stoffal in Game 2. The Indians also relied on its offense to answer every challenge from the Cavemen (3-7, 0-3).

Throughout the doubleheader, when Grants Pass produced a run, Roseburg would find an answer within an inning.

“That was the whole day, it seemed like,” Thompson said. “They’d score and we’d answer back.”

Grants Pass had a hard time with Mandera for five innings — the Cavemen’s lone run came on a solo home run by pitcher Tyler Rund in the first — but broke through against the junior right-hander in the top of the sixth. Cade King whacked a two-run, bases-loaded double to tie the game at 3-3, but was cut down at the plate to end the inning while trying to score on Payton Calabro’s RBI single.

Trailing 4-3, Roseburg responded when Mandera’s fly to center dropped in for a double, Cody Johnson was hit-by-pitch and Jonathan Stone beat out a bunt for an infield single. Mason Littlefield, pinch-running for Mandera, scored on Terrell Jacks’ walk to retie the game, then Johnson was out at the plate on Jett Black’s fielder’s choice. Stone put the Tribe in front for good on Garrett Russell’s RBI walk, and RHS scored its final run on Caden Johnson’s sacrifice fly.

G.P. couldn’t muster anything off Mandera in the seventh, and the Indians had assured themselves at least a split.

“Zack Mandera was really good early other than one pitch in the first,” Thompson said. “He was good, sharp, in command. I know they had a couple hits and we didn’t make a play that maybe we could’ve made. Zack is a lot of things and one of the his greatest traits is he’s a competitor. He was going to stay in there and get us a win. It was a very good performance by him mentally and physically, staying in the ballgame and giving us a chance to win.”

Mandera struck out eight, walked two, gave up six hits and four earned runs in 94 pitches for the complete game. Cody Johnson and Jacks, hitting sixth and eighth, respectively, had two hits apiece.

After a sharp and crisp first game — G.P. had the only error and there were just six combined walks — the nightcap was anything but a repeat.

Cody Johnson struggled with the zone and walked seven with three strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings, leaving the mound with a 5-4 deficit. Stoffal, making his second appearance of the spring, stemmed the G.P. tide. He struck out five, walked one and allowed one hit and one run over the final 3 1/3 innings.

Offensively, RHS came alive in the bottom of the fifth to score five runs and retake control of the contest.

“We had a lot of grind it out type at-bats,” Thompson said. “We went to the short game and we were able to come through with a lot of that.

“It’s something that we believe in and that we have to believe in. The kids had opportunities to put down some bunts, force the defense to make plays, and that really helped us to go first to third in that second game.”

Twice, lead-off hitter Russell dropped perfect, defense perplexing bunts. The first went up the third baseline with two on and loaded the bases in the second inning. Roseburg scored on Caden Johnson’s sacrifice fly. The second bunt went past the first-base side of the mound, avoiding three fielders, and moved Jett Black into scoring position. Russell and Black gained another 90 feet on a wild pitch, and Russell eventually scored on a second wild pitch.

By laying down bunt after bunt throughout the lineup, the Indians applied pressure to Grants Pass that the Cavemen couldn’t handle. G.P. had seven errors in the second game, including two in the fifth. The teams combined for 18 walks and two hit batters as well.

“That’s not something that you see in a seven-inning game every day,” Thompson said. “It’s pretty uncommon.”

Russell did finish 3-for-5 with three runs scored, while Jett Black went 2-for-2 with two RBIs and a run scored to lead the RHS offense.

It all added up to an SWC sweep for the Indians.

First Game

G. Pass 100 003 0 — 4 6 1

Roseburg 020 013 x — 6 8 0

Rund, Bellum (6) and Dinkel; Mandera and Jacks. WP — Mandera (4-0). LP — Rund. 2B — King (GP), Mandera (R). HR — Rund (GP)

RBIs — GP 4 (Rund 1, King 2, Calabro 1), Rose. 6 (Russell 1, Ca. Johnson 1, Gillespie 1, Jacks 2, J. Black 1).

Second Game

G. Pass 111 201 0 — 6 8 7

Roseburg 211 051 x — 10 6 2

King, Coyle (5) and Dinkel; Co. Johnson, Stoffal (4) and Jacks. WP — Stoffal (2-0). LP — Coyle.

RBIs — GP 5 (Dinkel 1, Bellum 1, Calabro 1, Knight 2), Rose. 4 (Ca. Johnson 1, B. Black 1, J. Black 2).