Originally Published The Nugget News March 29, 2016
Author Rongi Yost
The Outlaws baseball team traveled to Arizona and played in the Chandler Prep Tournament Thursday through Saturday, March 17-19.
Sisters usually has a couple of games under their belts before they head to Arizona, but due to inclement weather conditions and the tournament being moved up a week due to Easter, the Outlaws’ first games were in sunny Arizona.
The Outlaws lost 2-0 to Alahandra, a big school of 3,000 out of Phoenix, in their first game of the tourney on Thursday. Coach Steve Hodges told The Nugget that Alahandra’s pitching is probably the best they’ll see all season, with balls that crossed the plate at up to 86 mph. Hodges did note that for the first time on the field, the Outlaws’ defense did well.
On Friday, Sisters played Valley Christian (VC) on their home field in Chandler. Games have a two-hour time limit, and after a full six innings, time ran out with the score deadlocked in a 3-3 tie.
VC scored two runs in the first to take an early lead. In the third, Zach Morgan hit an RBI single that scored Alec Gannon, and narrowed VC’s lead to 2-1.
Valley Christian tacked on another run in the fourth to go up 3-1, but Sisters answered back with two runs in the fifth to tie the game up at 3-3. Gannon reached first base via a walk, and then Ryan Funk blasted the ball 370 feet over the left center fence for a home run and two RBI.
Gannon did a great job for the Outlaws on the mound in the last inning. Alec threw strikes and kept the ball in play.
Hodges said, “Our pitchers all did a pretty good job today. And, our defense did well. They (VC) had a runner at third in the sixth inning, and he didn’t score. That was pretty cool.”
Sisters lost 10-2 to Dysart, out of Phoenix, in their second game on Friday.
“This was our third game in 48 hours, and it was tough,” stated Hodges. “We ran out of pitchers, but the real difference in the game was that we walked 10 guys and had four errors.”
Sisters wrapped up their tournament play on Saturday with another game against Valley Christian in the consolations. The Outlaws bounced back from their loss the day before, and earned a 7-6 victory.
The Outlaws scored two runs in the first inning, highlighted by a sacrifice RBI by Morgan. VC also scored a run, but at the end of the first inning the Outlaws were on top 2-1.
Sisters tacked on three more runs in the third. Ryan Funk hit a ground ball up the middle for a single that scored two of the runs. VC also scored two runs in the third, and at the close of the inning the Outlaws still held the lead with a score of 5-3.
VC brought in three more runs in the fourth and went up 6-5.
Sisters answered with a run to tie it up, and then with two outs, Christopher Luz hit a single to left field and brought home Jake Stevens and JW Bertagna for the game-winning hit.
The Outlaws had six hits and no errors in the game.
Hodges shared his thoughts on the Outlaws’ overall performance at the tournament:
“I was really pleased with what I saw, except for that one game. The last couple of games we certainly hit the ball better and harder. We got to play in a couple of close games and that was good for us. It was good to get the experience to play under pressure.”
Zach Morgan is the Outlaws’ only pitcher with any varsity experience, and he is only a sophomore. Hodges told The Nugget that basically they are developing a new pitching staff.
“We are really young,” said Hodges. “We have to continue to develop and this weekend we had Bertagna, Gannon, and Cook really step up and do well on the mound. It was just such a good experience to get down here and play games in great weather.”
Three days later, the Outlaws lost 9-3 to Santiam Christian in their final game before heading back home.
Sisters had three runs on eight hits and committed three errors. The Outlaws got hits but had trouble stringing them together.
JW Bertagna did a good job starting at the mound for Sisters and pitched the first three innings of the contest.
Ryan Funk hit an RBI single that drove in Gannon for Sisters‘ first run of the game. Zach Morgan finished up the Outlaws scoring with a two-RBI single in the seventh.
Spencer Kemp (sophomore) singled for his first varsity hit. Morgan went two-for-two at the plate, and Ryan Cook was two-for-three with two singles.
The Outlaws will play at Madras on Friday, April 1.