Comets keep climbing
Crater baseball coach Jay Campbell routinely makes it a point to challenge his team with a tough nonconference schedule in hopes that will allow his team to be battle-tested once its league season comes around.
Some years have produced better results than others, but this season things have definitely taken a turn for the positive once the Comets opened Midwestern League play.
After posting a 4-4 record facing predominantly Class 6A programs, Crater has dialed it up a notch and, on Tuesday, secured its sixth straight victory with a 10-0, six-inning romp over Springfield at Anhorn Field in Central Point.
“The kids are buying in, they’re working hard and if everybody does their part and brings their piece of the puzzle, we’re going to have some success and the kids are seeing that,” said Campbell. “The hard work is paying off and we’re just trying to take it one game at a time now and seeing what we can do.”
On Tuesday, that was a little bit of everything as Crater improved to 10-5 overall and 6-1 in league.
Junior left-hander Jacob Swartwout and junior right-hander Sebasten Boivin combined on a one-hitter against Springfield (0-16, 0-10 MWL). Swartwout struck out six with two walks and one hit batter, while Boivin struck out three with one hit batter. He allowed a single to Chandler Larsen with two outs in the fifth inning.
“They did a good job of throwing strikes and being aggressive early and working ahead,” said Campbell, “and then they were able to locate with offspeed pitches when they needed to. Both guys were able to hit their spots in pitcher’s counts and looked pretty sharp.”
Helping each pitcher out was an early onslaught by the Comets, who scored six runs in the first inning and led 8-0 after two innings against the winless Millers.
“We’re trying to just work on not necessarily who’s in the other dugout but playing games against ourselves,” said Campbell. “It was encouraging to see the kids come out and have that approach in the first inning. There was good energy in the dugout and it was definitely a positive for us to have a good start. We had some good at-bats in the first inning.”
Neil Bastendorff was 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs and Jake Ireland 2-for-3 with one run and one RBI to spark Crater’s offense.
Jake Cartwright got things going with a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first inning and then beat out a throw to second base on a fielder’s choice comebacker by Nick Bastendorff. Ireland followed with an RBI double and, after Ireland was tagged out on a base-running mishap, Neil Bastendorff doubled home his brother for a 2-0 lead.
Neil Bastendorff then scored when Sean Bartlett’s grounder was misplayed for one of five errors committed by Springfield. Caine Smith kept things going by reaching on catcher’s interference and, after a passed ball, Jace Godley plated Bartlett with a sacrifice fly. Shay Hall’s RBI single made it 5-0 and he later scored when Hayden Deuel’s single was misplayed in left field to cap the first-inning scoring.
In the second inning, Ireland followed a walk to Nick Bastendorff with his second double and Neil Bastendorff picked up an RBI on a fielder’s choice that Nick Bastendorff beat out at home. Ireland later scored on a double-play groundout by Bartlett.
Crater put the mercy rule into effect in the sixth inning when Hunter Grant’s grounder to the shortstop allowed Nick Bastendorff to score and then Smith supplied a walk-off single to plate Neil Bastendorff with the game-clinching run.
“We’ve won a few in a row now and we’re just trying to play the game the right way and have a good work ethic every day we take the field, whether it be in practice or in games,” said Campbell. “Getting better is always our focus and nothing’s really changed.”
McKee and Durbin; Swartwout, Boivin (4) and Bartlett, Smith (3). W — Swartwout (2-1). L — McKee. 2B — C: Ireland 2, Ne. Bastendorff.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry