STANFIELD — The Stanfield Tigers built enough of a lead on Irrigon’s shaky starting pitching Tuesday to hold on for a baseball victory even once the Knights’ bats started to connect. The Tigers’ 12-8 win gives them a 2-1 record early in the Special District 6 portion of the schedule.
Irrigon’s Jason Weng struggled finding the strike zone to start the game, issuing eight walks in the first inning and a third. The Tigers (6-5, 2-1 SD6) didn’t let the free passes go to waste, taking a commanding 10-3 before the second inning was even out.
Haefer got on base twice in a seven-run second inning for Stanfield — once via walk and the other time as a hit batsman. Seven Tigers got on base with freebees in the inning.
After a middle reliever for Irrigon (3-8, 1-2 SD6) allowed his first three batters to reach base — the a beanball for Haefer — Sean Barron entered the game to pitch. From that point forward, the game took a much different turn.
Barron threw strikes and just 53 total pitches over the game’s final 4 1/3 innings while giving up just two runs. By comparison, the first two Irrigon hurlers used 82 pitches to retire just four Tiger batters.
Barron’s style kept Stanfield feeling wobbly at the plate. His slow, loping ball deliver looked more suited for an apathetic pupil tossing crumpled homework at a waste basket. Barron pitched to contact, striking out just a pair, and mostly inducing weak ground outs.
“We had trouble adjusting,” said Stanfield’s Ross Mendiola, who got on base twice before Barron’s entrance and then proceeded to go 0 for 3 against the righty. “We were expecting (Francisco) Nunez, the fast pitcher, and instead they brought (Barron) in. It seemed like a 30 or 40 mph difference.”
Mendiola’s recounting is hyperbolic at best, but compared to the earlier pitchers, Barron’s “fastball” felt snail-esque
“I just knew I had to pitch strikes and I was confident in my defense behind me so that I could throw that speed,” said Barron, who likened his pitches to “straight strikes, with a lot of change ups.”
Irrigon scored five late runs to make a game of it, but couldn’t climb all the way back. Ernesto Aguilera had three singles for the Knights and two RBIs and Barron also knocked in two runs in the four-run Irrigon fifth inning.
Devin Bailey was the only Tiger with multiple hits including a double for two RBIs. Irrigon out-hit Stanfield 13-7 in the contest.
Bailey finished the game on the mound after relieving Haefer and the game’s starting pitcher, sophomore Bryce Linker.