To end the non-league portion of the schedule, North Douglas was tasked with the best team they have seen this season: Reedsport. But it was the sixth-ranked Brave (6-1) working their way to a 6-2 road win over the Warriors (4-1) last Friday.
“First, to give them some credit, they’re probably in the conversation to win a state title,” said North Douglas head coach Jeff Davis. Adding, “We were a little nervous, we were a little tight because it’s Reedsport.”
Last season Reedsport made its way to the quarterfinals and the year before the team finished second at state. A cornerstone to both those seasons was junior pitcher Dallas McGill who, as a freshman, pitched six innings of the state championship game and was first team all-state a season ago.
With McGill getting the starting nod, he found success from the start striking out the first three North Douglas batters of the game. In five innings of work, McGill struck out nine batters and did not give up a hit.
“That’s the way he throws,” said Reedsport head coach Jason Lavigne about his ace. “Very controlled. And Tyler (Thornton who entered the game at pitcher in the sixth inning) – to pitch in these conditions and throw as many strikes as they did, that’s tough. Their cleats were loaded and those guys threw a lot of strikes and it’s tough. We’ve got a good pitching staff, pretty controlled, they run games pretty well.”
For North Douglas, the team relied on a cast of pitchers for the game that included Brian Erickson, Colter Anderson, Waylon Beckham and Wyatt Beckham. The pitching crew struck out seven batters on the day and walked eight.
“We haven’t walked seven guys all year long in four games and we walked seven in two or three innings. That’s mental stuff is really what it is. It has nothing to do with our physical skills,” said Davis. “That being said, other than in the sixth inning, they really didn’t hit the ball all that well. So in our mind, this would be the North Douglas spin on it, we pitch a little better, I think the defense was fine, it’s a one, two run game and you play those last two innings differently.”
In that pivotal sixth inning, the Brave were able to extend their lead scoring three runs all with two outs. Reedsport started a string of hits with ground rule double from Nick Glover, followed by a single to center from Griffin Lavigne and a triple from McGill that was compounded by a throwing error that took him home and gave the team a six-run advantage.
With McGill off the mound in the bottom of the inning, the Warriors were able to mount a rally of their own. Singles from Erickson and Austin Frieze got runners on base. After Koldan Frieze was walked, Wyatt Beckham had bases loaded and was able to hit a grounder to third that resulted in a throwing error and a pair of runs being scored.
The three hits in the inning were North Douglas’ only hits in the game. A pair of strikeouts ended the inning with the bases still loaded.
“There were hits and some walks and we had base runners on in both the sixth and the seventh. Give it some time, we’ve only been at this for three weeks,” said Davis. “We’ll hit the ball and we’ll improve. The guys work hard and they want to get better and the only way to get better against quality is to play quality.”
The game marked the end of North Douglas’ non-league schedule (until a non-league double-header with Bandon on April 20) that saw the Warriors go 4-1 including three shutouts.
“Regardless of who the opponents are – I’m talking about pitching right now – our control has been good. We’ve scored in a lot of different ways,” said Davis. “I was just talking with the coaches, baseball season is a sprint. It is a very short season. Basketball season is a grind. And so how fast and how much we can improve in this spring to the middle of May. We’re only talking about six weeks now, five or six weeks and we’re done.”
Now the focus turns to Special District 4 that includes second-ranked Umpqua Valley Christian. With no district playoff this year and the top three teams of the seven-team league getting automatic bids to the playoffs, the Warriors are looking to stay competitive in the upcoming week-long series with each team.
“Got to win those series, got to get two out of three. UVC is very good, they’re another team in this conversation for a state title. Glide has come down, they’re going to be good. Riddle we play next week, supposedly has one of the better pitchers in our league,” said Davis naming off some of the league competition. “Douglas County has always been a good baseball area.”