COOS BAY — South Coos has been a lot more competitive in its third American Legion season, picking up a number of wins along the way.
On Monday, the squad got a new first, sweeping an Area 4 North Division rival. South Coos beat Roseburg Pepsi 11-10 in eight innings in the opener and then came back to win the nightcap 8-4 in a game cut to five innings because of darkness due to the long first game.
“I think that was a combination of a lot of growth,” South Coos coach Shaun Knight said.
In both games, the Nooks (short for Chinook salmon) had to come from behind after giving up the lead late, a sign of the team’s improvement.
“Today, we picked each other up,” Trace James said.
South Coos led the first game 8-4 before three errors in the fifth inning led to five runs for the Bottlecaps. The Nooks responded quickly and eventually won the game on a single to left by Cam Olson in the bottom of the eighth.
In the nightcap, South Coos led 3-1 before Roseburg Pepsi went in front on a three-run double by Garrett Schulze with two outs in the top of the fifth. Again the home team responded, with the first five batters in the bottom of the fifth reaching base and eventually scoring, giving South Coos the win.
“This is the first day we competed for (all) 13 innings,” South Coos catcher Ezra Waterman said. “They were two positive wins, which has not been the case for the last two years.”
The biggest difference for South Coos on Monday was better hitting — throughout the lineup.
South Coos had 14 hits in the opener, including three each by Waterman and James and two each by Logan Peck, Wyatt Peck and Ryan Knight. In the second game, South Coos spread nine hits out among eight players. And the ninth, Jason Hinds, had a sacrifice fly in the big fifth inning.
“We hit as a team,” said Waterman, adding that the squad was boosted by an optional hitting practice Sunday.
James said that the Nooks had a poor approach hitting the ball in a nonleague win at North Douglas on Saturday.
“The coaches talked to us about that,” he said, adding that a number of teammates also showed up extra early to get more batting practice Monday.
“We were definitely more dialed in,” he said.
The results showed, not just in the base hits, but also a number of well-executed sacrifice bunts.
“We were playing fundamental baseball,” James said.
Waterman drove in three runs in the first game. Wyatt Peck had two runs and two RBIs and Logan Peck had three runs. Jace Haagen had two runs and an RBI and Ryan Knight had two RBIs and a run. Knight and James both hit doubles.
In the eighth inning, Waterman walked and courtesy runner Luke Rhodes raced all the way to third base on a bad pick-off throw from the Bottlecaps’ catcher. Roseburg brought in the infield for a possible play at the plate and Olson smashed a single between the shortstop and third baseman to bring home Rhodes with the winning run.
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Olson said he was happy to drive home the game-winner, especially after he struggled to find the strike zone as the South Coos starter and gave up four runs before leaving in the first inning.
Blake Crane largely kept Roseburg’s bats quiet until the errors in the Bottlecaps’ five-run fifth and Haagen got the win in relief by finishing the sixth and then pitching two scoreless innings.
In the nightcap, South Coos jumped in front in the second inning when Olson doubled to center to score pinch runner Jesse McIntyre. The Nooks added a run in the third when Wyatt Peck walked and later scored on a grounder to short by Knight. And in the fourth, Dom Montiel had an infield single — one of his two hits in the game — and scored on a two-out single by Wyatt Peck.
With a doubleheader Wednesday at Dr. Randol's of Roseburg, Shaun Knight was keeping the pitch count low for Montiel, who started the game, and Ryan Knight, who came on in relief in the third inning, so they would be available again.
James came on in the fifth and walked three straight batters before giving up the three-run double by Schulze.
But South Coos picked up James with its big inning. Knight singled, Waterman was safe on an error, Montiel beat out the throw to first on a sacrifice bunt for a single to load the bases, Olson reached on an error, Haagen had a bases-loaded walk and Hinds hit his sacrifice fly nearly to the fence in right. James got into the act, too, with a hard grounder that was misplayed as an error that led to two more runs with two outs.
“We hit the ball today,” Shaun Knight said. “They had a good approach at the plate. And they didn’t give in when there was an opportunity to do so.”
The Nooks improved to 4-4 in league play and now also have a four-game win streak. The Bottlecaps fell to 1-5 in the Area 4 North Division.
South Coos 11, Roseburg Pepsi 10
Logan Klopfenstein, Caden Smith (7) and Jericho Paul; Cam Olson, Blake Crane (1), Jason Hinds (6), Jace Haagen (6) and Ezra Waterman. 2B—Ros: Trevor Muir; SC: Trace James, Ryan Knight.
South Coos 8, Roseburg Pepsi 4
Grant Berry, Caden Smith (5) and Jericho Paul; Dom Montiel, Ryan Knight (3), Trace James (5) and Ezra Waterman. 2B—Ros: Trevor Muir, Garrett Schulze; SC: Cam Olson.