Oregon's High School Sports Source
- Written by DRH
- Published on April 11, 2009
- Hits: 779
1. Thurston 2-0
2. Churchill 1-1
2. Marshfield 1-1
2. Springfield 1-1
2. Willamette 1-1
6. N. Eugene 0-2
The story of the opening week centered around the first showdown between #1 Thurston and #2 North Eugene.
Thurston’s Chris Reed went all 9 innings to match Tim Keller’s 7 2/3, but darkness descended on Flaten Field before the first player would cross home plate and the game was suspended in a 0-0 tie. It’s a shame that this one “didn’t happen” – two dominant pitchers brought their best stuff, completely overwhelming two great offenses. This was one of the finer area pitching duels in recent memory.
MWL rules state that games suspended in a tie must be replayed in their entirety, so both teams were back in action the next day to play a full seven. Thurston got on the board quickly with two in the 1st inning, but North would rally to knot it at three apiece after two. But that’s where the game changed: senior Brooks Chapman can in for relief for the Colts, and shut down the Highlander offense over the next five innings. A pair of Skip Spencer HRs helped push the score out to 6-3, and Thurston found itself 1-0 after two days and 16 innings of baseball.
Thurston beat cross-town rival Springfield 6-0 the following day. Spencer took the mount and threw the shutout, scattering 4 hits. He also connected on another HR, as well as a double. Can anyone say ‘MVP’?
North Eugene was forced to make the long drive to Coos Bay on Friday, and were stunned 4-3 by the Pirates. Tired? Perhaps. A great game by Marshfield? Certainly. But one thing is for certain, and that’s that after the opening week of MWL play, North Eugene – the #2 team in 5A – finds itself alone the in the cellar.
The rest of the MWL enjoyed beating up on itself. Springfield beat Churchill 6-3 on Wednesday before dropping their game with Thurston. Churchill rebounded by smacking the ball all over the yard against Willamette, and winning 17-10. Willamette was denied a 2-0 start after beating Marshfield 4-3 with a two-run rally in the bottom of the 7th.
The Early Call: You have to figure Thurston’s looking good to repeat as MWL champions. To be two games up over North Eugene – their biggest challengers – two games in is a breath of fresh air for the Colts, who dropped their first meeting with NE last year and had to rally by winning their final 12 league games to claim the top prize. Thurston already has an early cushion, and they’re playing great baseball right now: they’ve won four in a row, and six of their last seven.
That said, the league is a lot deeper this year than last, so there’s still plenty of intrigue. If you figure North Eugene bounces back – and you know they will – to claim another playoff spot, you have no less than four teams battling to take that final playoff seed. Simply put, that makes every game played exceedingly important for the rest of the season. Might as well stick around and watch it unfold.
Latest Coaches poll was released, and again Thurston (#1) and North Eugene (#2) are the only MWL schools represented. At least the league made the most of their two representatives.
Quick look-ahead at the OSAA 5A playoff brackets: the MWL #1 seed will host the winner of the IMC #3/NWOC #4; the MWL #2 travels to the PIL #1; the MWL #3 travels to the NWOC #3.
What To Watch For
Thurston takes to the road twice this week at Willamette (Monday) and Churchill (Friday), sandwiched in-between with a home game against Marshfield. Can the Colts march through the first round of MWL play unbeaten?
North looks to rebound by hosting Springfield (Monday) and Churchill (Wednesday) before tripping to Willamette (Friday). Gotta figure Tim Keller will pitch Monday and Friday, bad news for Springfield and Will-Hi. Wednesday’s game against Churchill might prove to be more eventful, as the two perennial MWL powers square off in another key early season showdown.
Springfield has an interesting week set up. They’re likely to face Keller on Monday, but they should be able to hit Will-Hi’s pitching on Wednesday, and an intriguing trip to Coos Bay looms to close the week. Going 2-1 this week and wrapping up the first round of league play at 3-2 would be a big boost for these Millers.