Lions start road trip 1-2, split doubleheader with Sisters

After picking up two victories on Monday, Cottage Grove (7-2, 3-0 Sky-Em) began a six game road trip with a Tuesday game at Sweet Home (7-2, 2-1), followed by a doubleheader Friday against Sisters (11-0, 4-0). Prior to the start of Tuesdays game the Sisters Outlaws and Sweet Home Huskies not only held the top two spots in the Sky-Em, but were also ranked No.1 and No.2 in all of 4A baseball. 

Due to newly implemented pitch count rules by the Oregon School Activities Association, both Brett Ollivant and Wyatt Sayles were unavailable on Tuesday, but were available to pitch in the doubleheader Friday. Cottage Grove would have to rely on pitching by committee against the Huskies, sending three different pitchers to the mound and eventually losing in a close one, 4-3. The Sisters doubleheader resulted in a surprising 10-0 Outlaws victory in game one, followed by a shocking 1-0 Lions victory in game two; ending the Outlaws perfect start to the season. 

T.J. Bellamy, Mason Cox, and Hunter Gipson combined to pitch six innings against Sweet Home. However, pitching was not the story of this one. Cottage Grove had several opportunities to tie or take the lead, leaving a total of eight runners in scoring position. In all the Lions left 13 runners on base. Cottage Grove had two at-bats with the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning with a chance to tie the game, but could not capitalize.

Defensive miscues also plagued the Lions; two of the four Huskies runs were unearned. As a team Cottage Grove combined for six errors in the loss. In response to his team’s defensive issues head coach Dan Geiszler had this to say, “The good news is T.J., Mason, and Hunter all pitched well. On top of that, five of the six errors were all throwing errors, which are correctable fundamental mistakes. We walked away from that game feeling like we should have picked up the victory.”

Game one of the Sisters doubleheader was out of the ordinary for both Ollivant and the rest of the Lions squad. With Ollivant starting on the mound it appeared to be the best chance for Cottage Grove to give the Outlaws their first loss of the season. Sisters had other ideas.

The Outlaws scored four runs in the first three innings off the ace Ollivant. Sisters broke things open in the bottom of the fifth inning, sending 10 batters to the plate. Six runs scored on a total of six hits and three walks. Alec Gannon won it for the Outlaws with a single that gave Sisters a 10 run lead, ending it without the Lions getting a chance to bat in the top of the sixth. 

The Lions were the sixth team this season that Sisters had beat using the 10-run rule, which made the outcome of game two even more shocking. The sophomore Sayles threw 5+ innings, giving up four hits along with three walks and no runs. Bellamy came on with two outs in the sixth inning to pick up the final four outs of the game, giving him the save. The lone run for Cottage Grove was thanks to a Jaydin Osban single in the fifth, after back to back singles from Ollivant and Gipson to lead off the inning. Sisters had two excellent scoring opportunities foiled by the Lions. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the third inning, Sayles got Ryan Funk to fly out to left field to end the inning.

The Outlaws had runners on first and third in the bottom of the fifth with only one out when Gannon tried to steal second, and was thrown out by junior catcher Jaace Cross. Sisters was not expecting the throw, and was unable to score Christopher Luz from third. Sayles would force right fielder Turner Stutzman to ground out to second to end the inning. This week alone the sophomore Sayles threw 11&2/3 innings only allowing two runs. Dan Geiszler on the sophomore’s performance, “He’s done a good job of keeping the ball down and in the strike zone. He has worked hard off the field at getting better, and it has been fun to see that work pay off for him.” There are still three games remaining on the road trip for Cottage Grove, (8-5, 4-2) who stand alone in second place in the Sky-Em behind Sisters (12-1, 5-1). Despite the loss, the Outlaws still hold the No.1 spot in 4A baseball. Next up for the Lions is a doubleheader at Sutherlin (3-9, 1-5) on Friday.