COOS BAY — North Coos will get a chance to defend its American Legion Class A state baseball title later this month in Roseburg.
The Waterfront clinched the title by closing out the season with three wins Thursday and Friday, sweeping South Coos at Marshfield High School on Thursday, then winning the opener of a doubleheader at Grants Pass on Friday to conclude the regular season.
North Coos' Tyler Thornton slides safely into second base for a steal beneath South Coos' Wyatt Peck during an American Legion game Thursday a…
The opening ceremony for the state tournament is next Friday at Legion Field in Roseburg. If North Coos defends its state title or finishes second, the Waterfront will head to Cody, Wyoming for the regionals for the second straight year.
While Thursday’s sweep over South Coos by scores of 13-2 and 12-0 put North Coos on the verge of the Area 4 North Division title, the result was a disappointing finish to a promising season for South Coos.
Friday’s 2-1 win in the opener at Grants Pass clinched the division. The Diggers won the second game 18-8 in five innings, but that didn’t matter since North Coos finished at 12-4 in league play. Dr. Randol’s could tie the Waterfront at 12-4, but North Coos took three of four from the Crowns, which would be the tiebreaker.
“I’m excited,” said Brylee Anderson, who had a pair of runs in the nightcap after scoring three in the first game Thursday. “We’ve jelled well as a team. Our pitching has been solid. We’ve been able to tack runs on when we need to.
“I think we are going to do good at state.”
The pitching stood out Thursday, when both games ended after six innings due to the mercy rule.
Jayden Frank took a perfect game into the fifth inning of the opener before South Coos got its two runs with a single hit as well as a pair of walks and an error. Frank finished with 12 strikeouts.
In the nightcap, Jake Simmons pitched a five-hit shutout with six strikeouts.
“Frank threw a gem,” North Coos coach Brad Horning said. “Simmons threw lights-out.”
The games were closer than the scores suggested, with a couple of big innings making the difference.
North Coos scored five runs with just three hits — two of them bunt singles by Anderson and Tyler Thornton — to surge in front 6-0 in the opener.
In the second game, North Coos led just 3-0 heading to the sixth, but scored nine runs with the help of seven walks and a hit batter.
North Coos led the opener 1-0 after a second-inning sacrifice fly by Jacob Chaney. The next inning, Brendon Roberts walked and Anderson and Thornton followed with their bunt singles. Frank and Simmons both had bases-loaded walks and Ian Spalding punched a two-run single. AJ Stoltey later drove in another run with an RBI groundout.
By the end of the game, Anderson had three hits and three runs. Frank drove in three runs and he, Simmons and Spalding each scored twice. Stoltey drove in two runs.
Frank, meanwhile, was sailing along on the mound until the South Coos fifth, when Ezra Waterman walked for the Nooks and Blake Crane was safe on an error on a fielder’s choice. Dom Montiel lined a single to right for the only hit for South Coos to load the bases and Jace Haagen had a walk to score Waterman. Crane came home on a groundout by Wyatt Peck.
North Coos jumped in front 3-0 in the first inning of the second game when Anderson had a lead-off single, Thornton put down a sacrifice bunt and was safe on an error, Frank hit an RBI double, Simmons had an RBI groundout to short and Corbin White had a bunt single with the bases loaded after a walk to Spalding.
Braydon Freitag settled down on the mound after the first inning and allowed only two hits and no runs over the next four, but the 31 pitches he threw in the opening inning ended up proving costly as he hit the pitch limit when he finished the fifth with two straight strikeouts, giving him seven for the game.
“We did some damage in that first inning,” Horning said.
In the sixth inning, Anderson and Thornton each had singles after a pair of walks and Frank had a two-run double. That turned out to be the last hit of the inning, but the inability of South Coos pitchers to find the strike zone led to five more players reaching base and eventually scoring.
A few minutes later, the game was over and North Coos had a season sweep over the Nooks.
“I think we played well,” Anderson said. “We could have got more (runs) in the between innings. We had good pitching in both games.”
South Coos had five hits spread out in the second game, by Ryan Knight, Waterman, Montiel, Freitag and Jason hinds. The Nooks stranded seven runners in the game.
South Coos finished the season 6-10 in league play, with North Coos the only team the Nooks weren’t able to beat in league play. And aside from the four games with the Waterfront, the Nooks rarely lost by the 10-run rule, a big change from the past few summers.
“Today is disappointing, but if you look at the whole body of work, we’ve made up a lot of ground,” South Coos coach Shaun Knight said.
Logan Peck agreed.
“I think we’ve improved a lot — mentally and defensively,” Peck said. “We still have a lot to improve on, but we’ve really come together as a team.”
And nearly the entire South Coos roster — all Marshfield players but Freitag (Bandon) and Haagen (Coquille), will be in high school again next spring, which should help Marshfield take another step forward as a program.
Horning said it’s clear South Coos has improved a bunch this summer.
“I think Shaun (Knight) has done a great job,” he said. “I can see why they have been a thorn in some teams’ sides.”
The exception being the Waterfront.
“North Coos is really the only team that we haven’t got over the hump against,” Knight said.
Against Grants Pass North Bend got another gem in the opener, when Thornton threw a two-hitter with nine strikeouts.
Grants Pass got its lone run in the sixth inning on a pair of errors. The Diggers could have had a bigger inning, but Spalding threw out a base runner trying to steal second after a leadoff single.
North Coos got its first run in the third, when Spalding walked, stole second and scored on a single by Kyle Williams.
In the sixth inning, Holmes walked and came home on a two-out single by Roberts.
The nightcap was mostly Grants Pass, though North Coos did score four runs in the first, including leadoff home run by Roberts. Thornton had a single and a fielder’s choice and walk loaded the bases. White and Snoddy had RBI walks and Stoltey an RBI single.
North Coos got a pair of runs in the second and then scored two in the fifth, when Holmes, White and Stoltey had consecutive singles and Snoddy hit a two-run double.
Thornton had three hits in each game for North Coos, including a triple in each contest.
Grants Pass scored five in the first and had at least three runs in three other innings, taking advantage of 11 walks and three hit batters.
North Coos 13, South Coos 2
Jayden Frank and Ian Spalding; Ryan Knight, Jason Hinds (4) and Ezra Waterman.
North Coos 12, South Coos 0
Jake Simmons and Ian Spalding; Braydon Freitag, Dom Montiel (6), Jace Haagen (6) and Ezra Waterman. 2B—NC: Jyaden Frank 2, Spalding.
North Coos 2, Grants Pass 1
Tyler Thornton and Ian Spalding; Eide and Hood. 2B—NC: Thornton.
Grants Pass 18, North Coos 8
Jacob Chaney, AJ Stoltey (2), Hunter Wheeling (3), Ian Spalding (4) and Brylee Anderson. 2B—NC: Braydon Snoddy. 3B—NC: Tyler Thornton. HR—NC: Brendon Roberts.