It’s been nine years since Richey’s Market celebrated with the championship trophy in its own Fourth of July baseball tournament.
Now competing under the Gerding Builders flag, the Corvallis American Legion team will have another shot to get the deed done following a 7-4 victory over Dr. Stewart’s on the second day of the Mickey Riley Star-Spangled Tournament.
Even if the Marketmen lose today to a winless David Douglas team, they would still advance based on head-to-head competition in their pool.
“We’re definitely on a mission to try to win it,” winning pitcher Micah Ropp said. “And we want to do bigger things than that. It’s going to be a good year.”
The Marketmen will face the winner of today’s game between Mid-Valley and Dallas/West Salem.
Ropp’s stats do not necessarily stand out with eight hits allowed and just one strikeout, but he took a shutout into the sixth inning with big help from his defense in a pitcher-friendly ballpark.
“We discussed if there was a chance to get us in the championship game that he’d be willing and ready to go,” Gerding coach Kirk Myrold said. “He put out a great performance this evening.”
Throw out all of the unearned runs and Ropp would’ve beaten the Roseburg ballclub, 1-0.
“I was leaving some pitches up there in the middle of the game and our outfielders were all over the place and then with Nathan (Reynolds) making plays in the 6 hole, it was great,” Ropp said. “I knew I had to keep the ball down and coach emphasized that throughout the whole game.”
Gerding’s speed in the outfield stood out with Henry Rondeau in left, Stephen Coskey in center and Jimmy Cleary in right. For example, in the fourth, Rondeau sprinted back and made a catch near the fence for the inning’s first out to send two baserunners retreating.
The next batter sent a ball to right near the foul line and Cleary sprinted as if coming out of the blocks in the 100 to make the catch.
“This team likes to hit it deep, so our speed really paid off,” Coskey said. “We got some balls that we usually wouldn’t have been able to get to without this wind but it was nice out there.”
Myrold knows he has an exceptional crew roaming the yard.
“That was a great example of our defensive outfield. Henry and Stephen and Jimmy all read balls very well and the speed they all three have,” he said. “It enabled us to get to some balls that some other teams with our past outfielders would not have been able to get to.”
Leading 7-0 in the sixth, Gerding’s defense broke down and committed two errors that led to four runs. With two outs and two on, Tristan Guillen sent a line drive to center. Coskey nearly let the ball get over his head, which realistically could have been a game-tying, three-RBI inside-the-park home run.
“I misjudged it a little bit, well, I definitely did,” Coskey said. “It was a mistake on my part but I was fortunate to get up there.”
The home ballpark helped the Marketmen in more than one way, including right off the bat in the first. Coskey connected on a line drive to his left and Roseburg third baseman Mike Morin reacted with the ball in his sights.
At that second, however, the ball hit the edge of the infield and bounced over his head and into left with Coskey stretching it into a double. He later scored the game’s first run.
It was that kind of night for the visitors with Gerding adding two in the second thanks to errors and three more in the third with more miscues. On one play, Reynolds scored from third on a heads-up play when the catcher dropped a third strike and threw to first base.
In the fifth, Cleary scored on the back end of a double steal to push the Corvallis lead to seven runs.
The Marketmen (22-9) will play at 7 tonight against David Douglas, a team Gerding beat 11-6 a couple weeks ago on the road.
Gerding Builders 7, Dr. Stewart’s 4
DR. STEWART’S 000 003 0 — 4 8 3
GERDING BUILDERS 123 010 x — 7 8 2
Forrester, Fricke (5) and Leach. Ropp and Liner. WP: Ropp. LP: Forrester. 2B: Coskey (GB)
Hits: DS 8 (Irvine 3, Wyscaver 2, Miller, Matthews, Comstock). GB 8 (Coskey 2, Holland 2, Croney, Cleary 2, Reynolds)
RBIs: DS 2 (Comstock 2). GB 2 (Cleary, Holland)