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CENTRAL POINT — It wasn't the kind of runaway win one might expect for a top-ranked team in the state playoffs against the lowest seeded squad to make the 32-deep field, but Monday's outing played out just fine for the Crater baseball team.
The No. 1 Comets allowed an unearned run in the first inning but nothing else thanks to another solid effort by senior Nolan Bastendorff and then took control midway through the Class 6A state playoff opener to secure a 3-1 triumph at Anhorn Field.
Crater (22-6) will next host Tigard in the second round on Wednesday after the Tigers scored a 4-2 win in 10 innings at Beaverton.
Bastendorff moved his overall record to 8-3 after striking out nine with one walk and two hits allowed — both by leadoff hitter Josh Williams — in a complete-game effort. He needed only 90 pitches to eliminate the Warriors (8-18), who earned a spot in the playoffs with a 2-0 win at Canby last week.
"We expected them to be very tough but recently we've been playing very good baseball," said Aloha head coach Tige McSwain. "Defensively we've been holding up and our pitchers have been doing pretty well, but today the guy they had on the hill, he shut us down when he needed to. He did a good job of hitting his spots, keeping us off balance."
Williams reached on an infield single in the first inning that was stopped by a backhanded effort from first baseman Taylor Tibbets but not relayed in time to a covering Bastendorff at first base. A sacrifice bunt put Williams on second, and he scored soon after on a two-out roller that got under the glove of shortstop Zach Lathrop.
After that, however, Bastendorff was downright stingy against Aloha. He faced only three batters in each of the final six innings, getting a little help from senior catcher Tyler Aplin after he threw out Williams on a stolen base attempt at second base in the third inning.
"He's steady all the time," said Crater head coach Jay Campbell of Bastendorff. "You can't tell if he's winning by 10 or losing by 10, he shows no emotion and just goes out there and does his thing. He didn't have his best stuff today but was able to manage through and make pitches when he needed to."
Typically a slow starter, Bastendorff didn't show any signs of frustration for the early run by Aloha or limited run support. The 6-foot-6 senior said his thoughts remained on what he could control from the mound.
"After that (first-inning run) I just kinda buckled down and was like, 'OK, no more,'" he said. "It took us a little while to get that first run across but once we did I felt like it was a new ballgame and we were ready to rock."
It's not like Crater didn't have plenty of chances early.
The Comets loaded the bases in the first inning against Aloha starter Blake Lorentz but were denied on a double play after a short flyout by Blake Fahndrich to right fielder Toby King, who threw out Aplin at home. Crater had two runners on in the second inning and would've had the same setup in the third but a misunderstanding on a fly ball to King resulted in Tibbets getting erased at first base after he believed the ball was caught in right field.
Things finally turned in the fourth when Joey Caballero smacked a leadoff single, moved to second on a wild pitch and then came around to score the tying run when Lathrop's sacrifice bunt was thrown wide of first by Lorentz.
"It just helped to get that momentum and that tempo to just get everybody going," Aplin said of the tying effort.
Lathrop moved to second on the error and then to third on a wild pitch before Tyler Plankenhorn drew a walk. Lorentz managed a strikeout before Aplin ripped a liner to left field that easily plated Lathrop with the go-ahead run. Plankenhorn's bid to score from second was denied after left fielder Richard Belog made a nice bare-handed stop of Aplin's skipping effort and started a relay home for the second out. Lorentz later picked off Aplin at second base when he stumbled heading back into the bag.
Crater added an insurance run in the fifth when Tibbets crushed a one-out double to the fence and pinch-runner Dylan Morgan scored on Ty Fox's RBI single to left field.
"They battled us for a while and it was good to see our kids respond when you're down 1-0 and loading the bases or having the guys on second and third and not scoring," said Campbell. "You can get down and get frustrated but our kids were pretty resilient and stayed with it and were able to get some hits there when we needed it."
"You don't get fashion points, it's a win in the first round and you move on," added the ninth-year coach. "We actually didn't play bad baseball, we played pretty well defensively and Nolan threw a great game. Offensively we just hit too many balls in the air and strikeouts in key situations, and they made some great plays defensively."
The Southern Oregon Hybrid champion Comets learned last week that they'll have to do without the services of junior standout Gunnar Asher for the state playoffs after he came down with a bad case of mononucleosis that included a swollen spleen. Asher was diagnosed prior to a twin bill at Roseburg and Crater players wore a sticker on their batting helmets with his jersey number "24" on Monday.
"It definitely hurts and it's just a bad deal for the kid," said Campbell. "He's a good kid and it's pretty hard to take. He's a guy who can do a lot of different things for us offensively, defensively and on the mound as well, but the kids are trying to pick it up for him and see how far they can take it."
Aloha 100 000 0 — 1 2 3
Crater 000 210 x — 3 8 1
Lorentz, Eisert (6) and Romero; Bastendorff and Aplin. W — Bastendorff (8-3). L — Lorentz (0-2). 2B — C: Tibbets.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry