With heavy losses to graduation, Lebanon High’s baseball team will take the field with a lot of new faces next spring. Underclassmen from last season who would like to work on their skills and possibly find an edge with coaches can take advantage of the D1 summer program.
Bob Christenson, who serves as an assistant coach with LHS and was leading the summer team Wednesday during a 7-0 win over Philomath, said the team has failed to reach any level of consistency but did turn a corner in recent performances.
“They’ve improved a lot since we started summer ball, so I have to give them credit,” Christenson said. “This is probably one of the better games they’ve played as far as defense and that, and we hit the ball.”
Lebanon pitcher Theron Harter dominated the Philomath lineup by allowing only two hits and two walks to go along with seven strikeouts.
“He’s going to be a senior and has done a good job for us,” said Christenson, who expects Harter to be a big contributor to the Warriors’ pitching rotation next spring. “I don’t know what the pitch count was but he had a low pitch count and did a great job.”
The stat sheet showed 96 pitches for Harter, who went the full seven innings. Out of those pitches, 64, or 66.7 percent, of them went for strikes. He faced 26 batters in the game and threw first-pitch strikes against 18 of them.
Lebanon, which struggled to a 6-18 record last season under coach Jeff Stolsig, lost nine seniors to graduation. As a result, the coaching staff is taking a hard look at the prospects coming up.
“These guys, most of them, played JV ball for us and it’s a little bit different kind of ball moving up this summer,” Christenson said.
Offensively, Lebanon had six hits and worked six walks against the three pitchers that took the mound for Philomath. Catcher Joey Starr, who will be a junior, and second baseman Braeden Behm, who will be a sophomore, both went 2 for 3 in the game.
Lebanon scored single runs in the second and third innings, created a cushion with two more in the fourth and then took control with three in the fifth. Philomath miscues helped Lebanon runners come home — three scored on a wild pitch, one on a passed ball and one on an error with the other coming in on a fielder’s choice and single.
Christenson couldn’t say with certainty what the summer team’s win-loss record is but he said the team has performed well in recent games.
“I’m really happy with what we did this game,” Christenson said. “We played over in Bend here a week ago and we saw a big improvement over there and it just rolled into this game.”
Out of the nine players in the starting lineup Wednesday night, three played on varsity last season.
“It’s been a little rough, up and down, typical summer,” Christenson said. “Sometimes we get on the phone the day before and try to find guys that’ll play but yeah, this group’s come together.”