In just one game, the Philomath High School baseball team raised its batting average over a hundred points and in the process broke into the win column for the first time this season.
Coming into their final game of the Newport Spring Break Tourney on Tuesday, the Warriors were hitting a chilly .255. Five innings later following a 17-2 rout over Astoria, the batting average stood at a respectable .350. In other words, Philomath hit very well in the mercy-rule victory.
The Warriors (1-4) finally got a bit of a breather in terms of strength of schedule. The team had lost to a couple of top 4A schools in Gladstone and Henley before dropping games against 5A opponents in Crescent Valley and Dallas. That fourth loss had occurred earlier in the day on Tuesday against the Dragons, 8-5.
Philomath pounded out 21 hits in the win over Astoria with seven players finishing with extra-hit games. Third baseman John McCombs had a monster performance at the plate by going 4 for 4 with a home run and three RBIs. The McCombs home run was a solo shot to lead off the third inning.
Left fielder Alek Russell went 3 for 3 while center fielder Carson Gerding and shortstop Mason Stearns each went 3 for 4. Pitcher Cameron Ordway (2 for 3), first baseman Ty May (2 for 3) and second baseman David Griffith (2 for 4) also had multiple-hit games. Grant Niemann and Skylar Brolin even came off the bench and in their lone plate appearances, collected hits.
Philomath scored in every inning and led right away in the first with three runs. May, McCombs and Stearns each had one-run singles. The Warriors added another run in the second with Gerding hit a double to center to drive in Ordway, who had led off the inning with a four-pitch walk.
After Astoria (1-5) scored a couple of runs in the third to get back into the game, Philomath countered with four in the bottom half. McCombs had his solo shot to left field for a 5-2 lead. Alek Russell doubled and Stearns singled with both coming around to score later on errors. Then with two outs, Gerding hit a line-drive single to center to plate Ordway.
Philomath followed with its biggest inning of the season so far with nine runs in the fourth. Griffith (single), May (double), McCombs (single), Alek Russell (single), Stearns (single), Chad Russell (walk), Brolin (double), Ordway (single) and Gerding (double) all reached as the Warriors lit up the scoreboard for a 16-2 lead.
Astoria ended the hit parade by catching a line drive and doubling off a base runner. But Philomath scored one more run when Grant Niemann singled and scored on a McCombs single. Alek Russell also had a single to give Philomath 11 hits in the inning.
Astoria got its first runner aboard in the top of the fifth but then Ordway struck out three straight — all looking — to end the game.
Ordway threw a complete game and in five innings, allowed five hits and no earned runs or walks while striking out 13.
In the loss to Dallas, the Warriors struggled with its fielding by committing five errors. Philomath pitchers allowed eight runs but only three of those were earned runs.
Philomath scored twice in the top of the second to take a 2-1 lead. Chad Russell got it started by opening the inning with a single followed by Silas Barton working a walk. Kash Lindsey put the ball in play and reached on a fielder’s choice while Barton was forced out at second with Russell moving to third.
After a strikeout, Philomath went to the top of the order and Ordway, who reached on a two-out error while Russell and Lindsey scored.
The Warriors later trailed 4-2 before scoring three runs in the fourth to regain the lead. Lindsey walked to start the inning and two batters later, scored on an Ordway single. Ordway stole second and scored on a Gerding double to tie the game, 4-4. Philomath took the lead when Gerding took third on a wild pitch and scored on a Griffith ground-out.
But that would be it for the Philomath offense. Dallas scored twice in the bottom of the fourth to retake the lead, 6-5, and then added two more in the sixth. The Warriors had base runners in those last three innings but could not come up with the clutch hits to get anyone home.
At the plate for the game, Gerding finished 3 for 4 with the team’s other four hits scattered among four players.
Griffith and Lindsey each threw three innings. Griffith started and allowed six hits and two earned runs with five strikeouts and one walk. Lindsey came in to start the fourth and allowed four hits and one earned run with one walk and one strikeout.
Kaden Moore and Eli Hess each had two hits for the Dragons (2-2).