COOS BAY — A shorthanded and young Marshfield baseball team got stellar performances from a pair of pitchers but came up just short against visiting Siuslaw, falling 3-2 in the Far West League opener for the two teams Tuesday.
An incident that was a violation of Marshfield’s athletic code left the Pirates without six veterans, though most will be back next week.
In their place were several players pulled up from the junior varsity roster.
“I couldn’t be any prouder of them,” coach Bruce Bryant said of the squad. “They haven’t played a game for two weeks.”
Bryant has taken over as coach of the squad in place of Kevin Guthrie, who no longer is with the program. Marshfield athletic director Greg Mulkey said he couldn’t comment on Guthrie and the coaching situation due to confidentiality issues.
Marshfield kept the game close because of pitchers Tyler Thornton and Ryan Knight.
Thornton started and pitched into the fifth inning, striking out 10 batters while stranding seven Siuslaw runners on the bases in the first four innings. Ryan Knight got the Pirates out of the fifth and pitched the final two innings, adding three more strikeouts.
“Tyler throws a gem of a game,” Bryant said. “Ryan threw great, too.
“Kids stepped up to play.”
The only thing that hurt the Pirates was free passes to the Vikings on a day when each team had just one hit.
Thornton was plagued by hit-by-pitches — he struck five Vikings, including one that brought in the first run. In the third inning, Thornton hit Tanner Wilson with one out and then allowed Siuslaw’s only hit, a single to left by Jared Northrop. Evan Teter then drew a walk and Thornton hit Caleb Hennessee with two outs to bring in Wilson.
Marshfield got that run back with help from the Vikings in the bottom of the third. Thornton reached on a one-out error when his grounder to shortstop resulted in a throw to first that was off the mark. He moved to third on a passed ball and came home on a wild pitch by Hennessee.
In the fourth inning, Adam Plummer — one of the JV regulars — walked with one out and then moved to second on a wild pitch, third on a dropped third strike that necessitated a throw to first, and home on another wild pitch.
But Marshfield’s 2-1 lead didn’t last.
In the fifth, Thornton issued a leadoff walk to Teter and he stole second and moved to third on a passed ball. Teter scored the tying run on a grounder to short that resulted in a Marshfield error.
Siuslaw’s Dalton Stinger scored the winning run in the sixth when he reached base on a leadoff error and came around to score on a combination of wild pitches and passed balls.
Stinger then picked up the save on the mound, pitching the final two innings. He gave up Marshfield’s only hit, a clean single by Knight, to start the sixth, but stranded him at third base with two strikeouts and a fly ball.
In the seventh, Stinger struck out all three Marshfield batters looking, the last two on full-count pitches.
Thornton said he wasn’t discouraged by the result.
“I think our pitching and fielding did very well,” he said. “We’ve just got to work on our bats.”
He was pleased with his performance and that of Knight on the mound.
“I feel we threw pretty good,” he said. “We threw a lot of strikes and gave our fielders a chance to make plays and they did.”
Like Bryant, Thornton said he was proud of the inexperienced kids who stepped into the lineup. Because of the various players who weren’t available, Marshfield had just one junior, with the rest of Tuesday’s lineup made up of sophomores and freshmen.
“I think we can be a pretty good team going forward,” he said. “We’ve just got to use the bats.”
Bryant said he was pleased with how the Pirates kept competing and staying positive throughout the game.
“Our whole goal is we want to get better,” he said. “We want to develop these kids.”
The Pirates and Vikings meet again Friday for a doubleheader in Florence.