Baseball: Huskies fall in close road losses to OWC leader Stayton

Sweet Home baseball lost two close games to the division leader last week.

The Huskies, who sit at sixth in the 4A-3 Oregon West Conference, faced off against first-place Stayton in two road games, losing on April 20 by a score of 2-1 and on April 21 4-1.

In the first game, Sweet Home (3-12) pushed Stayton (14-3) to the brink, losing only when the Eagle’s Wyatt Hooper hit a walk-off sacrifice fly off of Sweet Home’s Russell Holly to break a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Despite the losing effort Holly held his own in the pitching duel, giving up zero earned runs while striking out eight and allowing just five hits in six and one third inning. He did not walk any batters.

Sweet Home’s run came in the top of the second, when Lewis Conn drew a walk with the bases loaded, scoring Casey Valloni.

But Stayton bounced right back in the bottom half of the inning, when Conner Choate connected for an RBI single.

From that point on, both pitchers kept their rival’s bats in check until Stayton scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh.

The Eagles and Huskies each had five hits apiece, but Sweet Home committed three errors on defense while Stayton had none.

Kaden Zajic, Lewis Conn, Hunter Ashby, Alex Kisselburgh and Valloni each had a hit for the Huskies, with Zajic’s double being the only extra-base knock.

“Our guys played really well against them,” said Head Coach John Best. “That’s a tough team. It was a really tight, tough-fought ball game. I told the guys at the end that that was a pretty tough one to lose, but it was a good clean baseball game and we had nothing to be ashamed of.”

He said his team was aggressive at the plate and played well defensively.

The next day, in the 4-1 loss, Sweet Home only managed one hit as Stayton’s starter Nick Frith threw a no-hitter through six and two thirds innings before he was pulled out due to pitch count.

“We ran into a pretty tough pitcher, and we just couldn’t hit the ball,” Best said. “(Frith) threw hard. He was one of the harder guys we’ve seen, and he had a curveball as an offspeed pitch. He was effectively wild. I don’t want to say he controlled the zone, but when he needed to he sure did.”

Frith did have five walks, so Sweet Home had runners on base throughout the game.

“We had a little bit of pressure on the base paths, but we couldn’t cash anything in,” Best said.

Sweet Home struck out 15 times in the contest.

Best said the Husky defense was solid behind Zajic, who pitched a complete game.

Ashby got an RBI on a base hit in the seventh inning, which was Sweet Home’s only hit of the day.

Sweet Home hosts Stayton on Wednesday, April 27 at 4:30 p.m. They then host Tillamook (4-6) for a non-league matchup on Friday, April 29 at 4:30 p.m.