Athletic directors at the Class 5A level have proven to be the most invested in controlling their own playoff destiny since a switch to the...
CENTRAL POINT — Crater baseball player Chris Painter took several walks on Monday.
The starting pitcher strolled out of tedium as rain peppered Anhorn Field, forcing a lengthy delay. He could only sit for so long as he and his teammates waited, eager to resume their Class 6A state playoff game against Canby.
Painter ended up pacing once the sky had cleared. He could hardly watch as the Cougars tried to upstage the Comets in the final inning.
After it was all said and done, the left-handed senior and his teammates walked away victorious.
Painter earned the win on the mound, Blake Fahndrich had the go-ahead RBI single and added a home run and Anthony Martin also homered as second-seeded Crater hung on to beat seventh-seeded Canby 6-4 in the first-round contest.
The Central Point squad will next host third-seeded South Salem (20-7) in the second round on Wednesday. The Saxons defeated Gresham 7-3 on Monday.
Painter allowed one unearned run, three hits and six walks and struck out eight in six innings. With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the third, he fanned Hunter Spriggs for one of his timely outs.
The Comets (18-9) had to rally in this one — they trailed 1-0 before Mother Nature burst into tears in the third inning, causing a pause in action that lasted at least 30 minutes.
"I was thinking, 'I hope this doesn't get cancelled,'" Painter said of the delay. "I wanted to play really bad. I was antsy on the bench. I was just thinking, 'Let's go, I want to play this game, I want to win this game.' I was pretty pumped."
Once action resumed, Crater's Ty Fox evened the score at 1 with a run-scoring single to left-center field that drove in Sebastian Reynolds. Fahndrich followed with his tiebreaking hit.
"Anytime you have a rain delay, you never know how the kids are going to respond," Crater head coach Jay Campbell said. "So to see us come out and battle back showed some character."
Then came the Comets' explosive sixth inning, which saw two homers. With one out and a 2-2 count, Fahndrich crushed his solo shot to left-center field. Taylor Pardee next hit a deep double and then Martin belted his two-run bomb to left-center on the first pitch that came his way.
"I haven't been hitting too good the last half of the season," Fahndrich said. "I was just going up there with the most confidence that I had and took a swing. That boosted my confidence right up."
Reynolds added an RBI single.
Those big hits put Crater fans on their feet.
The seventh inning put them on the edges of their seats.
Trailing 6-1 in the top of the final frame, the Cougars (10-17) tallied three consecutive hits and took advantage of a couple of Comet slip-ups to abruptly change the mood. An RBI single by Brady Thompson, wedged between two run-yielding passed balls, made the score 6-4. But Fox, who replaced Painter in the seventh, began to overcome the adversity with back-to-back strikeouts. A groundout finally ended the anxiety.
"I got a little nervous," said Painter, who improved to 5-2. "I had to walk away for a little bit there. I just took a walk."
Mike Caruso finished 2-for-4 for Canby. Starter Kris Koskela, who went 61/3 innings, allowed eight hits and three walks and fanned two.
"They are a good squad," Canby head coach J.J. Stolsig said of Crater. "I think they've got the chance to win a few more games."
Canby 010 000 3 — 4 6 2
Crater 002 004 x — 6 9 2
Koskela, Rutz (6) and Caruso; Painter, Fox (7) and Aplin. W — Painter (5-2). L — Koskela (2-4). 2B — C: Pardee. HR — C: Fahndrich, Martin.
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email firstname.lastname@example.org