PENDLETON — It’s a heck of a year to be a TigerScot.
The Weston-McEwen boys won the Special District 6 championship baseball game by defeating Stanfield 6-2 on Saturday, sweeping the team boys’ league titles during the 2011-2012 school year. The Athena-based school also won Blue Mountain Conference crowns for football and basketball.
During the title bout — played at Pendleton’s Bob White Field — Weston-McEwen (19-4, 13-1 SD6) called upon its ace Dallas Reich and the pitcher didn’t disappoint. After a shaky start allowing a pair of runs in the top of the first inning, Reich locked in on the Tigers hitters and held the team to two hits the rest of the way.
“Honestly that means nothing,” the senior said. “If I didn’t have the infielders, the outfielders making key plays, I guarantee you I wouldn’t even be mentioned as an all-league player...It lets me pitch relaxed.”
The loss doesn’t hinder the Tigers (15-10, 9-5 SD6) much, though. Both teams will advance to the state tournament next week, likely hosting first-round playoff games on Wednesday.
Knowing that Stanfield wasn’t facing an elimination game on Saturday, coach Bryan Johnson opted to pitch his No. 2 starter Bryce Linker and save his fire baller Devin Bailey for the playoffs. Bailey faced minor throwing arm injuries earlier this season and Johnson said the more rest he can afford Bailey the better at this point in the year.
“Devin threw a lot of pitches on Tuesday (against Horizon Christian) and that was on three days rest and this would have been on three days rest again,” Johnson said. “It would have been fun to go Reich-Bailey again and all that...but you’ve got to have more than one pitcher if you’re going to go deep in the state playoffs.”
The TigerScots won the first game of a doubleheader last weekend 2-0 when the top pitchers faced off.
For Linker, taking the mound against the Weston-McEwen bats again meant facing some demons. In Game 2 of that doubleheader, Linker was shucked for 11 runs in three-plus innings. He pitched much better this go-around but took the loss when the Tigers couldn’t produce enough runs to keep pace.
“If you let it stick in your mind, it’s not going to help you out there if you just sit there and dread,” Linker said. “You have to go game by game and hop back on the pony and get the next one.”
When Stanfield plated a pair in the first inning — one coming on an error and another on a Ross Mendiola single — the TigerScots battery turned up its intensity, shortstop Calvin Thacker said. Elliot Salter and Thacker led off the home half of the first with consecutive doubles and Weston-McEwen would take the lead back 3-2 moments later.
“They got on us before in the last game so we just knew we had to put the ball in play hard, which we’ve been doing pretty good lately,” said Thacker, who went 2 for 3 in the game.
Nick Lively also had two hits for the TigerScots, who would tack on two more runs in the third and another in the fifth inning.
Stanfield was led by Bailey at the plate, who hit the team’s only extra-base hit — a double — and also drew two walks.
Weston-McEwen coach T.J. Haguewood said watching Stanfield streak through the postseason last year on its way to a state title was inspiring for his group. Seeing the title come to the east end of the state really got the TigerScots thinking.
“I think that gave our boys a little confidence,” Haguewood said. “Why not us? If it’s going to be Stanfield one year, I’d like to keep that championship in the league.”
Contact AJ Mazzolini at email@example.com or 541-966-0839.