CORVALLIS, Ore. – As exciting as this inaugural Gresham GreyWolves season has been at times, Thursday’s loss in Corvallis to knock the team out of playoff contention was fairly uneventful and monotonous.
There was lots of men left on base, little scoring, and no late rally after falling in a big hole early. The Corvallis Knights jumped out to an early 6-1 lead against Gresham (13-11, 24-27 overall) and never looked back, cruising to a 10-2 win against a mentally and physically exhausted GreyWolves team.
“It’s a 54-game season,” says head coach Justin Barchus. “To lose the way we have the last three nights, you can say all the right things but deep down they’re thinking about it coming to an end.”
After losing three straight one-run decisions, Barchus’ club entered Thursday’s series finale at Goss Stadium down but not out of the West Coast League playoff race. That soon changed, however, as Corvallis (14-10, 32-19) broke a 1-1 tie with five runs in the bottom half of the second.
That five-spot proved to be an early dagger as the Knights pitching staff was too good on this night to let Gresham back into the game.
The visitors were able to get their leadoff man aboard in four straight innings after falling behind 6-1, but the early success only plated one run throughout those four frames. That run was then answered by two more runs from Corvallis, making the score 8-2 heading into the seventh.
“It is tough to stay focused (after falling behind big early), but Bend competed the other night after giving up nine runs in the first three innings,” Barchus said after the game. “I thought we had a chance to sneak back in there when it was 6-2, but then they added those two runs to really take the wind out of our sails. That just killed us.”
Playing out the string on their final few frames of meaningful baseball, the GreyWolves conceded two more runs before exiting quietly into the night. The final score was 10-2, sealing the deal on a sweep for Corvallis and a playoff berth for Yakima Valley.
Knights reliever Jacob Fricke (5-0) earned the win after allowing just one run on three hits in three-plus innings of work out of the bullpen. Starter Chris Brown (3-3) was credited with the loss for Gresham.
The team now sets its sights on its final series of the season, running Friday-Sunday back home against the Bend Elks. It will be the last chance for the GreyWolves to play together as a team this year, and with wins and losses meaning less now, an opportunity to get back to the relaxing nature that typically accompanies summer league ball in the first place.
“It would have been nice to not lose 10-2 tonight, but to play in front of 3,000 people in one of the nicest stadiums on the West Coast was fun,” says Barchus. “You have to remember why you started playing the game in the first place, and that’s to have have fun. I think our guys will go back home and just play loose and relaxed.”
The series with Bend opens Friday at Oslund Field in Gresham. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.
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.