GRESHAM — Last year at this time, the players on the HRV baseball team were already thinking about next year.
But this year, after starting the conference season at 4-5, the Eagles are entertaining an entirely different mindset — one which includes a possible visit to the state tournament.
Behind solid pitching performances from Jon Winnett and Jarrod Fogle, HRV won its second straight game Monday, beating the Gresham
Gophers 5-2 to sweep the season series.
The win put HRV in a fourth-place tie with today’s opponent, David Douglas, and sent a message to the rest of the conference that this is definitely not the same 0-16 team of 2001.
“We believe we have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs,” coach Gerry Flink said. “But to get there, we need to get past teams like Douglas.”
Winnett pitched the first four innings Monday and gave up just two hits and one unearned run in his first start in three weeks due to injury. He helped his own cause with a two-run blast in the fifth inning to give HRV a 2-1.
Jarrod Fogle finished the job, striking out six while giving up four hits and no earned runs. He also had a key RBI during the three-run 7th inning, which was capped by a Danny Gilkerson RBI.
Another Eagle pitcher enjoying tremendous success in the early going is sophomore Heath Goin, who pitched his second complete-game masterpiece of the season in Friday’s 4-3 win over Parkrose.
Goin was dominant with his off-speed pitches and kept the Bronco hitters at bay most of the afternoon, giving up only three hits and one walk to go with eight strikeouts. None of the three runs were earned.
“The unearned runs have been killing us,” said Flink, whose staff ERA in league is a more-than-respectable 2.73. “But the staff has been getting the job done.”
HRV hasn’t given up an earned run over the past two games and hopes to ride the arms of Goin, Winnett, Fogle and Jon Wall during the second half of the league season.
But if the Eagles are to compete with David Douglas for the final playoff spot, it will need to improve its infield defense and hitting.
Perhaps the Parkrose game was a premonition of good things to come — at least at the plate — as Kyle Maurer socked the first Eagle homerun at Traner Field in the past two seasons.