MONMOUTH — A doubleheader against the Albany Rockets Wednesday evening faced the Dirtbags with some stark competition that resulted in a close call for the first game and a slaughterhouse in the second, losing both contests on their home field in Monmouth, 4-3 and 8-4.
Peter Mendazona started the first game on the mound and Kalob Cantolla took the lead for the second.
Also pitching throughout the games were Tristan Fergus, Eric Kessler, Noah Amador, and Braden Allison.
The Dirtbags put up a good defensive side in the first game, but during the seventh stanza, the Rockets sent two guys across home plate, putting the game at a tie, 2-2. As the Dirtbags’ grip on defense began to slide, the Rockets managed to nab two more scored runs and ended the contest up by just one point.
In the second game, the Dirtbags defense suffered; head coach Scot McDonald swapped out four pitchers on the mound in that seven-inning contest, where more balls were crossing the plate than strikes.
“Some of it is, I think, some of these guys haven’t pitched in a while; they’re not in the swing of it yet,” McDonald said.
Mendazona agreed with McDonald, recognizing that even being away from the game for a few weeks can have an impact on performance.
“First game I started and I was a little off because I haven’t pitched in a little while but it was good to get started,” he said. “I think I gave up two and five innings, so that was decent but I didn’t have the command I usually do. At the plate I didn’t do that well – I only got one hit this whole series, so that wasn’t good. I gotta work on that. No excuses, I just didn’t hit it. I just gotta readjust my mentality and swing more often earlier in the count.”
Towards the end of the game, the boys looked defeated and with every loss, there is always the question of why it happened.
“I don’t know – these days can be long, that shouldn’t be an excuse though,” Mendazona said. “You could tell that second game we weren’t in it. The first game we competed and then we kind of lost it and I think that brought our souls down a little bit.”
With only being two weeks into the season, the team is still trying to find their footing, McDonald said, both with themselves and with one another, and in games like these, where the team suffered harsh competition, it can provide an opportunity to find out what the team is made of, he added.
“I think we kind of grew as a team a little bit (tonight); a lot of these guys don’t know each other.”
As the season continues, McDonald said there is a lot the team still has to work on.
“We came up with some big hits when we needed to, just not enough of them, I guess. We need to make sure we’re staying ahead of counts – no giving any free bases, and stringing more hits together.”
Blake Arritola, who graduated this year from West Salem, sees each game as a way to improve for the next one, especially for their next doubleheader.
“A lot of us probably aren’t used to playing a double header – a long two seven innings games, so eventually it kinda wears down on you,” Arritola said. His goals for next time: “Stay focused throughout the game, so focused through the first then all the way through the second (and) better approach through the second game as well,” he said.
For the first game, Holstad and Arritola scored the two runs, with Holstad brining in one RBI, and Mendazona, Holstad, Arritola and Graber clinched the four runs in the second game. Brothers Jacob and Derrick Maiben sent in three RBI total.
Dirtbags clinch victories in multiple games
VANCOUVER — It was a triumphant weekend for the Dimarini Dirtbags in the Grant Smith Wood bat tournament, coming back from Wednesday’s double header loss and winning all four of their games with room to spare.
Friday, the team dominated the West Valley Bees 18-5, with a big 10-run push in the first inning by Peter Mendazona, Tristan Fergus, Logan Graber, Blake Arritola, and Jackson Holstad, as well as two walks from Holstad and Braden Allison and a sacrifice fly by Derrick Maiben.
The boys’ offensive fire fueled their defense, with Noah Amador earning the win, going five innings, allowing five runs on four hits and striking out one.
Third inning the Bees managed a push of their own, scoring runs as the Dirtbags worked to keep up their defensive side.
Throughout the game, Anthony Zellner had three RBI and two runs; Mendazona had one run and one RBI. Fergus had three RBI and one hit. Maiben had one RBI and three runs.
Saturday was a doubleheader against Vancouver and Summit, respectively. In the opener, Allison posted a shutout for the Dirtbags, allowing zero runs for a final victory of 10-0 for the Dirtbags.
The action mounted in the fifth inning, when the boys scored five runs, with Maiben, Holstad, Mendazona, Kalob Cantolla and Graber putting runners in position across the plate and nabbing RBIs in the process.
Allison pitched six innings and earned the win, allowing four hits, zero runs, one walk and four strikeouts.
That evening, the Dirtbags closed out their final game with another shutout, 12-0, with Maiben throwing a no-hitter to lead the team past Summit for another victorious contest.
Maiben was on the mound for five innings, allowed zero hits, zero runs, with one strikeout and one allowed walk.
In the first inning Zellner sliced a double on a 1-0 count, scoring two runs. Mendazona went three-for-three at the plate, leading the Dirtbags in hits.
A low-scoring game against the Eugene Challengers on Sunday finished off the Dirtbags’ four-game weekend with another win, 3-0, keeping the Challengers at bay with a strong defensive hold.
Eric Kessler took the win on the mound for the Dirtbags, surrendering zero runs on one hit over the seven-inning game, striking out five.
Zellner started the game off by lacing a single down the line on a 1-0 count, scoring one run.
Arritola and Zellner both saw multiple hits during the game. Fergus, Allison and Zellner each had one RBI. The team had zero errors.
Tuesday the team plays a doubleheader at Western Oregon University after press time.