With six games in six days, many teams would succumb to fatigue by the end of such a grueling schedule. That certainly wasn’t the case for coach Erich Harjo and his Oilers baseball squad over the last week, as the team endured and enjoyed great success at home and on the road.
“The nice thing about this team is that they just know how to play good baseball,” said Harjo, whose squad is atop the Oregon Junior State Baseball Association standings with a 5-1 league record. “The coaches (Adam Howell, Don Lariza) don’t have to do a lot of fine tuning with them, because they’ve played so much baseball. They’ve been playing together for such a long time, they get along well and they’re having fun. As long as they continue to stay focused, then we’ll do ok this summer.”
The Oilers (6-3 overall) concluded a three-game homestand with an 11-4 win Wednesday over Estacada at Hood River Valley High School’s Traner Field. After winning four straight, the team has a break in action until June 25, when it hosts Gladstone
On Tuesday versus Putnam, the Oilers overcame a 3-1 deficit with a three-run sixth-inning rally to get the win. Dallas Buckley (1-for-2, single, RBI), Alix Jimenez (2-for-4, two singles, RBI) and Patrick Harvey (1-for-3, single, RBI) each drove in runs with key hits to lead the Oilers offense, as they outhit Putnam 9-6. The trio of starting pitcher Ryan Ward (two strikeouts, one hit allowed) and relievers Buckley and Jimenez combined on the mound to help lead the Oilers to victory.
The Oilers competed in a 15-team tournament June 14-16 in Corvallis and won one of three nonleague contests. Following close games against more experienced teams St. Helens (a 7-6 loss) and Grant (a 7-5 loss), the Oilers won 4-2 over Corvallis June 15.
Hoping to keep their momentum going after winning their final game in Corvallis, the Oilers ran away with a dominating 11-1 win in five innings over Franklin (4-4) Monday. The boys jumped in front early in the first, highlighted by RBI singles by Ward (2-for-4), Connor Olson (2-for-3) and Montana Kurahara (2-for-3) and built a 4-0 lead. They then capitalized on third-inning Franklin miscues (error, walk) in extending the margin to 9-1 and added one run in the fourth for a 10-1 advantage.
“Summer ball is all about developing players and winning isn’t regarded as the most important thing,” said Ward, a pitcher/outfielder.
“I didn’t play last summer because I was injured, so it’s going to be a lot of fun this year. It’s always nice coming away with a victory and it was good to get it over quickly, too.”
Olson, the Oilers’ starting pitcher, struck out four, walked two and allowed just one hit in four innings pitched to earn the win. Olson and Jimenez are the only HRV incoming seniors on a young Oilers squad of primarily sophomores and juniors.
Connor Curtis, a lefty, relieved Olson in the fifth and allowed one hit but no runs as he combined with Olson on the sparkling two-hitter.
“I’m glad to be back out on the field; I had a good time and I thought I had a pretty good game,” said Olson, who was playing in his first game Monday.
“It was a good way to start summer ball and hopefully, we’ll have more games like this. I’m looking forward to seeing how good we can be this summer. Our goal is to improve so that we’ll have a better team next year than we had during the spring regular season (at HRV).”
Chase Lariza, Harvey and Kam Walker (3-for-4, 2 RBI) each drove in runs to fuel the Oilers 15-hit offensive attack. Ward’s fifth-inning, two-out RBI single drove home Kellan Duffy, who earlier reached base on an error, to give the Oilers an 11-1 Mercy Rule win.