ROSEBURG — Saturday, the Dirtbags played their first state tournament game in the five-game series at the Legion Field at Bill Gray stadium in Roseburg, where they squeaked by with a close 10-8 victory against the Hillsboro Dodgers, keeping them in the running for the state championship.
The game started off slow, with Jaret Stewart on the mound, who is 6-0 for the year. In the bottom of the first, Blake Arritola got things moving with a leadoff walk. Jackson Holstad laced a single and sent Derrick Maiben across the plate.
By the third inning, things began to heat up. The Dirtbags’ defense took a slip, and Stewart couldn’t seem to find his footing on the mound as the Dodgers tallied up runs. Kaleb Reid came in as relief out of the bullpen, with Stewart pitching three and two-thirds innings, nabbing five runs, allowing two walks and striking out four.
The Dodgers clinched three runs, including a homerun in the third, coming up behind the Dirtbags by one point.
In the bottom of the third, the Dirtbags managed to cross the plate two more times to create a space between scores.
In the fourth, with the Dirtbags on defense, Reid committed an error on the mound, allowing both Dodgers on bases to advance to second and third, putting them in scoring position. Derrick lunged to catch a pop fly from the left field line but missed, resulting in two runs from the Dodgers.
Kaiden Reidhead came in as relief from the bullpen at the top of the fifth stanza, with Reid striking one and walking three. Anthony Zellner managed to score a run for the Dirtbags, and Jackson Holstad sliced a single to the right field line.
In the sixth stanza, Braden Allison came out onto the mound for the fourth pitcher of the game, and took the victory with one strike and one walk.
In a dramatic double play, Derrick snatched up the ball at short stop and threw it to Peter Mendazona on second, who turned around and flipped it to Tristan Fergus on first base, knocking out two Dodgers.
The end of the game resulted in 10-8, with the Dirtbags going 10 runs, five hits and one error.
On July 24, the Dirtbags dominated North Marion in a doubleheader in Monmouth, taking a victory in both games, 12-2 and 17-3, and securing their spot in the state tournament series in Roseburg.
In the opener, the Dirtbags got on board with five runs in the first inning of the five-inning game. Blake Arritola, Jacob Maiben, Derrick Maiben, and Peter Mendazona all collected multiple hits for the Dirtbags. Arritola led the team at bats, going four-for-four, and Maiben led with three RBIs.
On the mound, Jaret Stewart claimed the win, allowing eight hits and two runs over five innings, striking out five and walking zero.
Eric Kessler, who had two RBI and one run, came out to the game with a mindset of playing smart.
“I think I did pretty good at third, and I got my passes off every time I was at the plate, took a good swing, and played smart,” Kessler said. “That’s what we were coming out here and doing today. Don’t underestimate the team; we gotta come out here and play hard every game.”
In the second game, the team scored early, four runs in the first inning and six in the second. Arritola, Mendazona, Jacob Maiben, Jackson Holstad and Anthony Zellner saw multiple hits, and Arritola socked one home run, his first of the season. He also led the team again at bats, going three-for-four this time around.
Maiben led in RBIS, sending four over the plate while he laced a groundout in the first, and triples in the second and fifth stanzas.
Braden Allison earned the win on the mound, going two innings, allowing one run on zero hits, striking out three and walking one. Kaleb Kantola, Eric Kessler and Kalob Reid all put in work in relief out of the bullpen to help drive their team toward the state tournament.
“We don’t exactly have a best track record for doubleheaders, and we’ve been looking to change that all season, and we finally came out here and did it,” Kessler said. “That’s what we say every time, is just don’t quit the second game, come out, finish it.”