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MailTribune.com
  • On the rise

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  • Mulder tosses a six-hitter as the Comets edge Thurston in subtournament action
    CENTRAL POINT ' Last Saturday, they outslugged the opposition.
    Wednesday, they strung singles together to win.
    And Friday, they prevailed in a pitchers' duel.
    As good teams are apt to do, the Crater baseball squad is finding different ways to win.
    — Most impressively, the Comets are doing it with their season on the line.
    Just every game we're coming out and we know we just have to win or else we're done, said senior pitcher Kevin Mulder, who tossed a six-hitter to lead Crater past Thurston, 2-1, in Class 4A state-playoff subtournament action Friday at Anhorn Field. It's gonna be hard to beat us.
    McMinnville, the Pac-9 Conference champion, is the Comets' next obstacle, and Crater (12-11) has to travel to the Grizzlies' lair for a — p.m. meeting in the first round Monday.
    But the Comets enter that contest riding a three-game win-or-else streak, which they started with a 12-6 Game 2 victory over South Medford last Saturday to forge a three-way tie for the Southern Oregon Conference's fourth and final playoff spot.
    After Roseburg eliminated the Panthers on Tuesday, Crater, which went 6-8 in SOC regular-season play, posted a 7-5 road win over the Indians on Wednesday to advance to state for the 16th time in 20 years.
    Thurston (11-10), the Midwestern League's fourth seed at 9-7 in conference, was waiting.
    The Colts weren't ready, however, for the barrage of offspeed pitches that awaited them.
    Mulder, a senior left-hander, stayed around the plate all day and frustrated a powerful Thurston lineup by relying on the changeup.
    In improving to 6-4 this season, he estimated he threw 50 percent changeups, then mixed in fastballs and curves to keep the Colts guessing.
    I just work hard on my changeup and curve and went into this game wanting to keep the ball down low so they can't hit it, said Mulder, who didn't allow more than one hit in any inning and struck out four while walking none.
    Thurston's lone run came on senior catcher Johnny Bowden's solo home run in the sixth that cut the Colts' deficit to 2-1. Bowden, who hit five homers in MWL play and has signed to play baseball at the University of Nebraska, launched a hanging curve well over the 340-foot marker in left-center field.
    Other than that, Thurston stranded a runner in every inning but the fourth and sixth, and Mulder bore down to keep a man at third base in the fifth and top of the seventh, when he worked around a leadoff single.
    (Mulder) was on today, and he had good location, said first-year Comets head coach Jim Powell. And what has helped us probably the last three games is Mike Peila, the (senior) catcher, has been calling, I think, excellent games.
    The Colts received a fine pitching performance from their own lefty senior starter, as Danny Sales fired a seven-hitter and allowed just one earned run.
    Crater did its damage in the third and fourth innings.
    In the third, junior right fielder Gary Gomes led off with a single to right and came all the way around to score ' controversially ' on a pair of Thurston errors.
    After a pitch to junior third baseman Adam Reed, Bowden tried to pick off Gomes at first, but the throw sailed into right field. Gomes hustled to third, where the throw bounced past the bag, and Gomes sprinted home. Sales was backing up the play at third and appeared to have Gomes nailed at the plate, but Gomes did a 360-degree spin around Bowden and was ruled safe by the umpire.
    The Colts' complaints ' they believed Gomes ran out of the base path ' were to no avail.
    That's Gary Gomes all the way, Powell said. He's always doing things like that.
    The other run was scored by senior left fielder Andrew Norum, who tripled to deep center on a ball misplayed by Matt Urness and scampered in on Peila's single.
    Coach was telling us we usually play good when our back are against the wall, Norum said. And it seems true. I guess that's the way we like it.
    Thurston ................................. 000 001 0 ' — 6 2
    Crater ..................................... 001 100 x ' 2 7 0
    Sales and Bowden; Mulder and Peila. W ' Mulder (6-4). L ' Sales. 2B ' T: Escalera, Urness. 3B ' C: Norum. HR ' T: Bowden.

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