Second baseman Kayson Olsen throws to first during Friday's scrimmage. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

With the Philomath High baseball season opener canceled Wednesday because of poor field conditions, head coach Levi Webber wanted his players to experience the type of conditions they would see on game day along with needed work on pitching, hitting and fielding.

Enter the intrasquad scrimmage. Players put on uniforms, went through pregame routines and squared off competitively on the diamond. There were no umpires — Webber called balls and strikes from behind the pitcher’s mound — and the players stayed together in the same dugout but most everything else resembled an actual game.

“It’s good to get one in and jersey up and make it feel like a real game,” Webber said, his team scheduled to now open the season Tuesday at Santiam Christian. “We did infield and outfield (warmups) before and did our whole pregame routine so we had that feel. It was good to get out here and compete a little bit.”

Webber said the team needed the work, especially what had occurred in the previous practice.

“We were able to get a little intersquad with the slider machine yesterday (Thursday) which was quite honestly really ugly,” he said. “Today, it was actually really good, so the difference a day makes is huge.”

For those keeping score, the Black team won the game, 7-6. The two offenses combined for 15 hits and batted .259 in 58 at-bats.

“We pitched real well, threw a lot of strikes and I thought we were pretty good at the plate,” Webber said. “But yeah, it was just to get out here after being inside for the past 2-1/2 weeks and being able to get some baseball in.”

Joe Barnes struck out the side in the top of the third inning. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Webber threw a dozen pitchers in the scrimmage with Mason Stearns starting for the Black squad and Brayden Shenk going first for the Gray team — each going for two innings. Others seeing time on the mound included David Griffith, Joe Barnes, Kash Lindsey, Ty May, Logan Matthews, Caleb Babcock, Grant Niemann, Wylie Griffith, Eli Bush and Kayson Olsen.

“They all looked really good pounding the strike zone, which is what we want them to do — throw strikes and get after it and then our defense can do what they need to do behind them,” Webber said. “That’s what we have to do to be successful this season. From the top down to the bottom, they all did really well so it was fun to watch.”

The Black team scored three runs in the bottom of the first for the early lead. Matthews, Walker Westbrook and Colton Hruska all had one-run singles with two outs.

Silas Pittman slides safely into second past Logan Matthews. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

In the top of the second, the Gray team tied the score. Wylie Griffith had the big hit with a two-out, two-run single and Silas Pittman followed with a double to plate another run.

The Black team responded immediately with two runs in the bottom half. Bush scored on an error that occurred during a steal attempt at second and Stearns reached home on a passed ball.

The Gray pulled to within 5-4 in the fourth inning. Silas Barton walked, stole second, advanced to third on an Olsen single and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Wylie Griffith.

The Black team added two more runs to its total in the bottom of the fourth. Stearns singled to right and later scored on a wild pitch. Matthews hit a two-out double to left to drive in David Griffith, who had been hit by a pitch.

The Gray team scored its final two runs in the top of the sixth. Brady Russell reached on an error and later scored on a wild pitch. Olsen singled and made it home on Wylie Griffith’s second sacrifice fly of the game.

Mitch Berklund makes a play in left field. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Among the pitchers, Stearns had four strikeouts and one walk in his two innings. Barnes struck out the side in a strong appearance in the third inning. Wylie Griffith had three strikeouts in his appearance. Babcock, Olsen and Lindsey each had two strikeouts.

At the plate, Stearns went 3 for 3 and scored three runs. Olsen finished 2 for 2 with two runs scored. Matthews was 2 for 3 with two RBIs. Wylie Griffith went 1 for 1 with four RBIs.

Philomath’s game on Tuesday at Santiam Christian is scheduled for a 4:30 p.m. start. The team is scheduled to play its first home game on Thursday against Gladstone.

Brad Fuqua

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.

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