LEBANON — The Warriors are still in control of their own destiny for a Mid-Willamette Conference title, but the road to a championship is now significantly tougher.
Dallas’ Scott Schepige crushed a three-run homer in the first inning to put Lebanon in a hole it could not climb out of Tuesday afternoon. The Dragons won the series-opener
14-4 at Lebanon High School and need just one more victory to win the conference.
Lebanon (15-9, 14-5 league) and Dallas (18-6, 15-4) entered Tuesday’s game in a tie for first place. The Warriors now must win the final two games of the series to claim the MWC crown.
Today’s game is at Dallas, and Friday’s finale will be played at Lebanon.
“We need to flush today and just move on to tomorrow,” Lebanon senior Daniel Aranda said.
Aranda, Lebanon’s typical Tuesday starter, was not available after pitching 11 innings last week. Aranda threw a complete game last Tuesday and pitched four innings of relief Friday to clinch the series win for Lebanon over Corvallis.
Aranda will start today’s game.
“He has been our ace,” Lebanon coach Jeff Stolsig said of Aranda. “When we get into games where we need a win, he has been that guy on the mound. And that is what you expect out of aces.
“I guess he probably wanted the ball today because he is such a competitor, but we needed to get him rest. We wanted him rested for his start.”
Aranda is anxious to take the mound and help his team stay in the title hunt. Tuesday’s lopsided defeat just added fuel to the fire.
“I am going to go out there and even it back up,” Aranda said.
The Warriors will need a solid performance from Aranda if they hope to overcome Tuesday’s beat down.
Dallas leads the MWC with 9.5 runs scored per game. Lebanon is fifth at 5.8.
The potent Dallas offense pounded out 16 hits and two home runs in Tuesday’s win.
“Our pitchers have to keep the balls down,” Lebanon outfielder and pitcher Kyler Murphy said. “Dallas is a good hitting team, and we knew that coming in here. We have to do a better job hitting our corners and hitting our spots.”
Matt Goodlett, Josh Spencer, and Kody Steele had three hits apiece for Dallas.
On the mound, Dallas starter and Chemeketa signee Josh Havig allowed three runs (one earned) and scattered four hits in six innings of work. Havig struck out eight, walked three and hit one batter.
Havig consistently had Lebanon batters lunging at his curveball throughout the game.
“We need to be more patient and see balls deeper and drive it the other way,” said Murphy, who was 1 for 4 with a run scored.
The Warriors also committed three errors in the field, but shortstop Michael Paulino made several difficult pop-ups and grounders look easy.
Stolsig and the rest of the team is ready to leave Tuesday behind. The coach knows his squad is more than capable of fighting back and winning the series.
“It is over with. They thoroughly dominated us. Tomorrow is another day. We told the boys that they can’t take any of these runs with them,” Stolsig said.
Dallas 14, Lebanon 4
Dallas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 314 040 2 — 14 16 2
Lebanon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100 101 1 — 4 5 3
Havig, Weaver (7) and Moskal. Paulino, Murphy (3), Villaneuva, Scavone (5), Ferrell (7) and L. Rappe. W: Havig. L: Paulino. 2B: Dal, Spencer 2, Moskal. HR: Dal, Schepige , Goodlett. Leb, Duerr.
Hits: Dallas 16 (Goodlett 3, Fast 2, Spencer 3, Weaver, Schepige, Kuust, Moskal 2, Steele 3); Lebanon 5 (Murphy, Duerr 2, L. Rappe, J. Rappe)
RBIs: Dallas 14 (Goodlett 3, Schepige 4, Moskal 2, Weaver 2, Kuust 2, Steele 1); Lebanon 3 (Duerr, L. Rappe, J. Rappe)