Slowly but surely, things are starting to turn around for Hood River baseball.
After starting the season at 1-5, the local boys from Carson Oil won three games in two days at Traner Field this week, and raised their overall record to 6-6.
“We’ve made a huge turnaround in only two weeks time,” said new head coach Jeff Lahti, who has helped infuse a new excitement into a baseball program that struggled all spring.
“The guys are starting to develop a new confidence within themselves, and I’m starting to see them get excited. But we have to keep playing hard every day and keep it in perspective, because things can turn around quickly,” he said.
The biggest difference in Carson Oil’s turnaround has been the bats. The team pounded out totals of nine, 11 and 14 hits, taking down Marshall 11-4 and 10-6 on Wednesday, and The Dalles 11-0 on Thursday.
“Good hitting is contagious,” Lahti said. “Once one of the guys sees his buddy hitting the ball, he wants to get into the act as well. Before you know it, the whole team is getting on base and making things happen.”
Lahti complimented his players on improving their patience at the plate, as well as their execution of the hit-and-run.
He would like to see more consistent defense (five errors in both games versus Marshall), but Carson’s pitching has been strong enough that the miscues haven’t hurt them.
“I’d like to see us back up the pitchers better, but that will come with time,” Lahti said. “We just need to stick with it and our talent will eventually shine through.”
Shortstop Pete Dills has made a big impression on Lahti, both in the field and on the basepaths. And Dills only added to that praise when he hit an inside-the-park homerun in game two versus Marshall.
Jeremy Belcher also hit a homerun, but his was the over-the-fence variety in game one — the first of his high-school career. Danny Newton (3-3, 2-2 on Wednesday), Ryan Pratt and Bryan Nishimoto have also been on a tear of late.