LEBANON — For every run that Lebanon High put on the scoreboard, West Albany had an answer and then some.
It was the responses in the early innings Monday that gave the Bulldogs a cushion, and pitcher Simon Mathios kept the Warriors from stealing the momentum.
West scored seven runs in the first three innings and held on for a 10-3 win in a Mid-Willamette Conference baseball game at Croco Field.
Bulldogs coach Don Lien has encouraged his team to break down the game into 14 half-innings and try to win each of those half-innings or a full inning. He liked what he saw from that approach.
“I think it helps simplify what we’re doing because they’ve been wrapping up their performance all into one as the game goes,” Lien said. “I thought they did a good job with that today.”
Lebanon (5-2, 5-1) tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the first inning and West (5-1, 4-1) came back in the top of the second with Luke Killinger’s two-run double down the right field line after the Bulldogs loaded the bases with three singles.
West tacked on four more in the third, with Bryce Bowers providing a two-RBI double to left. Lebanon got one back in the bottom half and the Bulldogs matched it with Caeden Zamora’s two-out, run-scoring single to right.
Lebanon’s Ryan Rivers had his second run-scoring hit in the fifth to make it 8-3. But West added more, loading the bases on two hits and a walk then scoring twice, first on a wild pitch and then on a double-play grounder.
“Our team likes to come out and compete, and I love playing with a team that does that,” said Killinger, who had two doubles and two RBIs. “We never get down on ourselves and we just want to compete. It’s a good mentality.”
Lebanon kept the pressure on and never let West Albany get comfortable.
Warriors coach Jeff Stolsig, whose starters Monday included seven sophomores and a freshman, says his team’s goals every game are to have fun and compete relentlessly.
“For the most part our guys are doing that, especially our older guys and our more experienced guys,” he said. “They just getting after it. I really like this group.”
Stolsig credited West Albany for making good contact, pitching well and playing solid defense.
Mathios, the Bulldogs’ starting pitcher, had his best performance of the season after some difficult situations, including what Lien called a borderline balk call against him last week that helped Crescent Valley to a 2-1 win.
A senior right-hander headed to play at George Fox University next year, Mathios allowed eight hits, one walk and hit a batter with seven strikeouts against Lebanon.
“He needed to come out and get a breath of fresh air and I think that’s what he got,” Lien said. “He felt much more confident with what he was doing on the mound today.”
At the plate, Mathios had a hit and was hit by a pitch.
Nathan Marshall pitched the final frame for the Bulldogs, allowing a leadoff walk before recording three outs on two fly balls and a strikeout. He also hit a double and was 2 of 3 with one RBI.
Tyler Walker, Lebanon’s sophomore starter, pitched into the fourth inning. He gave up 10 hits, a walk and hit a batter while striking out two.
“He’s going to come back. He’s got good stuff,” Stolsig said. “He’s going to get stronger and some of those balls aren’t going to get hit as well.”
Killinger, Marshall, Zamora, Bowers and Marcus Allen each had two of West’s 13 hits. Killinger and Bowers shared team-high honors with two RBIs each.
Colton Vandetta and Rivers both had two of Lebanon’s eight hits.
Without the possibility of state playoffs to look forward to, Stolsig said this, unfortunately, is a “developmental year” for his team. But he likes the progress his first-year varsity players have made and the leadership from seniors Joey Starr and Cole Weber.