The depth of the Corvallis Gerding Builders Marketmen has been so good this summer that they have cruised to a 10-4 start with one of the top hitters in the state stashed away on the bench.
Ethan Krupp, an all-league first baseman from Crescent Valley, terrorized opposing pitching during the high school season but has worked primarily as a pitcher for the Marketmen thus far — in part because the team is so loaded with infield talent, but also to prep Krupp for a collegiate pitching career.
Krupp will pitch at Western Oregon next year and knows that his plate appearances could be few and far between from here on out. But he will get one more chance to swing away next week.
As part of the Oregon Freightliner All-Star showcase, Krupp will compete in the series’ inaugural Jugs Sports Home Run Derby June 22nd at Goss Stadium alongside 10 of the other top hitters from Oregon’s 5A and 6A conferences.
Among the competitors will be South Salem standout Ryan Brown, an Oregon State commit, as well as Western Oregon signee Patrick Muskat of Central Catholic.
“To be honest, today was the first time I’ve hit in like a week,” Krupp said following the Marketmen’s doubleheader split with Keizer on Tuesday. “I’m just kind of trying to get into the swing of things; get back into it and see how my swing feels and hopefully put one out at Goss. I kind of struggle off a pitching machine, but I’m gonna go out there and try to hit some balls hard and make (Crescent Valley coach Ryan Starwalt) happy. Prove all the 300-foot fence doubters wrong.”
Since he was selected for the derby, the recent CV graduate has joked with teammates about the intense preparation he will need for next week. But part of the fun, Krupp hopes, will be proving that he isn’t just a pull-happy left-hander who benefited from the Raiders’ short right field porch.
“Most of my homers were right-center, so I’m trying to put an end to that 300-foot fence thing,” Krupp said.
During the spring, Krupp was one of the top bats for a CV squad that finished the regular season as the No. 2-ranked team in class 5A. He hit .383 with five homers, 31 RBIs and nine doubles while also racking up 62 strikeouts and a 2.20 ERA on the mound. According to stats listed by OregonLive, he tied for the fourth-most long balls of any player in Class 5A.
“It’s fun, he’s always working on something new,” Marketmen infielder Grant Carley said of Krupp. “So it’s cool to see a guy that’s such a good pitcher, who’s always working on his craft, to be able to do something else at the same time. I think that’s really cool.”
For much of the season, the Marketmen infield has consisted of Carley at third base, Caleb Beach at shortstop, Azel Bumpus at second and Cooper Hartsell at first. Those four often hit at the top of the order in the lineup and have all had productive summers with the bat.
“It’s interesting,” Krupp said. “Coming in, I thought I would hit a little for summer ball. But we’re so good offensively … Coop has been phenomenal playing first for us. We have so many good infielders like Grant and Beach at third and short, Azel at second. So Coop kind of had to play first and he’s done a great job so I can’t really be mad that I’m not hitting this summer. But I’m excited for the derby because it will probably be the last time I ever touch a bat is what I’ve been told.”
So, who would win in a home run derby consisting solely of Marketmen players? Krupp and Carley both named a dark horse candidate: Bumpus, a 5-foot-7 second baseman who has some surprise power in his bat.
The Corvallis High School senior typically hits third in the Marketman batting order and put up some big numbers during legion ball last summer before earning second-team all-league honors for the Spartans this spring.
“Just a guy with quick hands to the ball, somebody who works on it a lot,” Carley said of Bumpus. That would probably be my first guess”
Added Krupp, “This summer he already put a ball out at Roseburg that would have cleared here by 10, 20 feet. I don’t think people realize how good of a hitter he is and how much pop he has for being so small.”