PHS senior Brayden Shenk had a quality start vs. the Eagles. (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

In an early battle for first place in the Oregon West Conference, Stayton held on to beat Philomath, 3-2, Wednesday on the Eagles’ home field.

The victory improved Stayton to 4-0 in the league standings while the Warriors dropped to 3-1. There is a tight race in the conference so far with North Marion also in the mix at 4-0 and Newport still in the conversation at 2-3.

Stayton (8-3 overall) is scheduled to play a doubleheader at Philomath (8-4) beginning at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, although wet weather may have something to say about whether or not the games materialize.

PHS senior Brayden Shenk had a quality start against the Eagles with an 89-pitch, complete-game performance. Shenk allowed seven hits and two runs with one walk and seven strikeouts.

But Sweet Home’s pitching was also in the zone with senior Freddy Connaly throwing six innings of six-hit ball, which included three walks and eight strikeouts. Senior Eli Brown threw the seventh and had a walk and a strikeout for the save.

Stayton took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Brown led off the inning with a single and moved up to third on a Daniel Odenthal single. He scored on a ground out to third base. Odenthal then scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Ty Borde.

Philomath countered with a run in the third. Caleb Babcock hit a one-out double and came around to score on a two-out single by Mason Stearns.

Philomath stranded runners at first and third in the fourth and failed to get anything across in the fifth despite a leadoff double by Babcock. In the sixth, Philomath stranded a runner at third and in the seventh, Babcock walked and stole second but was left on base to end the game.

Babcock went 2 for 2 and Stearns was 2 for 4 to lead the PHS offense. Wyatt Hooper and Borde each had two hits for the Eagles.