Philomath High’s No. 3 got in a lot of mileage around the base paths on Friday during a doubleheader sweep over visiting Sisters. Alek Russell, a junior, went 5 for 7 and drove in five runs combined in the 5-2 and 15-11 victories.
“I’m starting to get a lot more comfortable in the box … I’ve been working at it a long time,” Russell said. “When I’m up there, my teammates are really supportive and that helps a lot; it gives you a fire in your belly to get going.”
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The fire must’ve been running hot during Russell’s plate appearance in the second game’s fourth inning. The Warriors entered the inning trailing 7-4 but tied the game on one-run hits by Cameron Ordway, David Griffith and Ty May. An outfield error on May’s hit brought in another run to give Philomath an 8-7 lead.
Later with May at third and Chase Beardsley at second, Russell blasted an opposite field line drive into the right field corner.
“I knew it had some distance but by the time I got to second, I really didn’t know,” Russell said. “I saw (coach Levi) Webber moving me so I kept it going.”
Russell ended up with a two-run triple to give Philomath a 10-7 lead. The Warriors never trailed again to open the season with a 2-0 record.
“I was really, really pleased with how well we hit the baseball,” Webber said. “You’re never really sure how well you’re going to hit coming out. We’ve had a couple of live intersquads but not a ton of live at-bats so you’re always a little worried.”
The Warriors came out of the doubleheader with a .400 team batting average with 65 at-bats. Russell (.714), May (.625) and Ordway (.625) were all in the zone at the plate. Skylar Brolin, who turned in an exceptional performance at pitcher in the first game, went 2 for 3 while playing in the outfield in the second game.
“We’ve got some ability, we just have to make sure we’re always putting that ability in the right direction and making sure we’re getting the most out of our opportunities,” Webber said.
In the first game, Philomath led 4-0 through three innings with Brolin cruising on the mound.
“He was really sharp for the first two times through the order and just pounded the strike zone,” Webber said. “I don’t think they got a hit until the fourth or fifth inning. He was outstanding on the bump … kept his pitch count down.”
Brolin threw six innings and allowed four hits, two runs and one walk against five strikeouts. Webber sensed he was tired with his pitch count at 76 and brought in Ordway to finish up the game in the seventh. Ordway set down Sisters 1-2-3, the last two on strikeouts for the save.
Philomath took a 2-0 lead in the first on a one-run double to left by Adam Hernandez to bring in Ordway, who had opened the game with an infield single. Hernandez later scored on a wild pitch.
In the fourth, Hernandez opened with a single and scored on a double to center by May. Two batters later, Russell doubled to center to bring in May for a 4-0 Warriors advantage. Logan Carter then reached on an error to load the bases with no outs.
But Sisters escaped the situation with back-to-back strikeouts and a popup to the shortstop to strand all three PHS runners.
Sisters scored two runs in the sixth to make things interesting at 4-2. In the bottom half of the sixth, Philomath increased the lead to 5-2 when Ordway scored on a May sacrifice fly to center field.
In a marathon nightcap that included a combined 24 hits and 26 runs, Philomath had to rally in the fourth and fifth innings. The Warriors went up 4-0 in the first on one-run singles by Hernandez and May, a sacrifice fly by Beardsley and on a passed ball that brought in May.
By the top of the fourth, Sisters had scored seven unanswered runs to take a 7-4 lead. Philomath was fighting through some rough stretches with its pitching and catching.
“Adam had a little tightness in his back, so he came out pretty early, a lot earlier than we were expecting him to, so we brought Cam back in,” Webber said. “We were struggling a little bit behind the dish early on, catching some balls and keeping some balls in front.”
In the bottom of the fourth, Philomath’s bats came alive to push six runs across, highlighted by that Russell triple. The Outlaws got back to within 10-9 in the top of the fifth but in the bottom half, Philomath started to pull away with five more for a 15-9 lead.
With May at the plate, Ordway scored on a passed ball for the first run of the inning. May followed with a two-run double to the left-field fence. Later in the inning, Russell singled in May and Jake Williams plated Brolin.
Sisters added single runs in the sixth and seventh but did not threaten the rest of the way.
Ordway ended up as the pitcher of record for the win and May collected a save for his two innings of work to wrap it up.
For Ordway, it was an all-around effort at the plate and on the mound. Heading into the season, Webber called him a team leader, a role that he’s welcoming.
“I just need to work on being more vocal and helping our team out — that’s definitely my main focus right now,” Ordway said. “I think our team’s really athletic but we’re still a little on the new end for varsity play.”
Philomath will hit the road on Monday with a 5 p.m. game at Banks. The Warriors will then play back-to-back games against Sweet Home — Wednesday on the road and Thursday at home.
Friday, April 16 at Philomath HS
Philomath 5, Sisters 2
|DP: None. LOB: Sisters 2, Philomath 9. 2B: Hernandez, May, Russell, Vohs. 3B: Linn.|
Philomath 15, Sisters 11
|DP: None. LOB: Sisters 11, Philomath 8. 2B: May 2, Ordway, Vohs 2, Duey. 3B: Russell.|
|* Duey faced 2 batters in the fourth.|
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