CORVALLIS, Ore. – “That’s just baseball” is a term often used by coaches and players to describe a circumstance that didn’t break their way, despite seemingly doing enough to ensure a better result.
“Baseball” befell the Gresham GreyWolves yet again on Wednesday as the Corvallis Knights were able to hang on for a 7-6 win despite only squaring up a few balls all night. The one-run loss was Gresham’s (13-10, 24-26 overall) third in such fashion in as many days.
“It is just the nature of the game,” said head coach Justin Barchus after the defeat. “It’s baseball, and playoff baseball, at any level. Credit them for having 15 hits, but I feel like they only had one hard-hit ball all game.”
The game got started in a similar manner to Tuesday’s series opener as the GreyWolves jumped out to a 1-0 lead after the first inning. An aggressive Ryan Smith (Southern Illinois) plated the game’s first run, scoring all the way from second after an errant back-pick attempt rolled into no-man’s land in shallow center field.
That lead was pushed to 2-0 in the third inning when Jordan Barchus scored on another heads-up play on the basepaths, and while Corvallis (13-10, 31-19) took the lead away from the visitors with four runs in the bottom half of the frame, a quick two-run burst in the next inning pulled Gresham back to all square at 4-4.
But the experienced Knights have won seven straight games for a reason, and the team exemplified that by shaking off the GreyWolves’ comeback to grab their lead right back with a single run in the last of the fourth.
That was the end of the line for starter Aaron Shoup, but his early exit paved the way for Clark College product Zach Robinson to make his most effective appearance of the year. Robinson, who wasn’t added to the team until mid-July, worked three-plus innings while allowing just one run for Barchus and company.
And while Gresham’s bats may have gone quiet offensively, Robinson’s performance was pivotal in keeping the team within striking distance.
“Zach did a great job for us when we really needed it,” Barchus said. “We needed someone to close the gap and he actually gave us one more inning than we were looking for out of him. That was big to save the back end of the bullpen.”
Robinson and reliever Jeramy Smith both gave up one run throughout the game’s final innings, but their offense eventually matched both of those scores. That made the score 7-6 when Drew Curtis (Southern Illinois) stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the ninth, but unfortunately for the GreyWolves, “baseball” struck again.
Curtis would square up a 1-2 delivery from closer Trenton Dupre (Washington State), and while it initially seemed like the ball might have enough to get all the way to the wall, the big ballpark and brisk Willamette Valley night swallowed it right up.
“That was as hard as anyone’s hit a ball all night,” remarked Barchus. “It just went right to their center fielder.”
Durpe (4) earned the save for Corvallis despite issuing three walks in his one inning of work. Reliever Tanner Howell (2-2) got the win, while Shoup (2-3) was credited with the loss for Gresham.
The loss moves the GreyWolves into a tie with the Knights for second place in the South Division’s second half standings, and they will now need to win out to have a shot at making the playoffs in their first season as a franchise. Barchus knows that his team’s odds aren’t great, but he is liking the approach being taken by everyone in the lineup.
“Our chances are slim right now, but you’ve seen the guys battling hard every night,” he says. “Things have gone about as bad as they can go in the game of baseball the last three nights, but they are still showing up and working hard. We are going to compete and enjoy playing with each other because we don’t have much longer together.”
The GreyWolves are on Twitter (@GreshamGWolves) and Instagram (greshamgwolves). Fans can also find us on Facebook here. To purchase tickets, apparel or hats for the inaugural season of GreyWolves play, visit www.greshamgreywolves.com or call (503) 390-2225.