(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
CHAFFEE -- Friday's pitcher's duel against one of their closest rivals may have been just what the Oran Eagles needed to get out of their recent struggles.
Kody Moore and the Eagles, who have been plagued with shoddy defense and a lack of offense of late, out-lasted Chaffee's Alex Davie in nine innings at Harmon Field to beat the Red Devils 2-1.
Although there are conference games still left on the schedule, Oran's one-run win over the Red Devils more than likely clinched the Scott-Miss Conference regular season title.
"I knew coming into today I was going to have to step my game up," Moore said. "I knew I was going to have to match (Davie) pitch for pitch and inning for inning. This was huge. (Chaffee's) one of the better teams in the area and we haven't been playing real well lately. Today, I really think this was the turning point."
It was a welcomed change of play for the Eagles who committed six errors Thursday. Although they coughed up three against Chaffee, their blunders didn't result in runs being scored.
Oran's defense was charged with making 24 of the 27 outs recorded.
"We had six yesterday so we thought we did pretty good," Oran head coach Mitch Wood said. "They're high school kids. You're very seldom going to have a perfect game."
Oran's ace knew the importance of this game when the week began asking head coach Mitch Wood for the ball.
Moore, who threw 112 pitches, didn't let his request to stand atop the mound go in vain. The hard throwing right hander threw all nine innings and held a potent Chaffee lineup to just one run and three hits.
"He's struggled a lot this year and he really came out today and did a good job," Wood said. "He wanted the ball Monday, so you know, I knew he wanted it and we put him in that situation. We're real happy with his performance."
His counterpart, Chaffee's Alex Davie, did just as well.
Davie threw 8 1/3 innings and allowed two unearned runs on four hits. He also struck out nine.
Chaffee, who hasn't allowed more than two runs to any team they've faced this season, prides themselves on pitching and defense. The left-handed Davie kept his end of the deal while the defense failed to keep theirs.
Chaffee committed four errors which ultimately allowed Oran to score their two runs.
"It's unfortunate," Chaffee head coach Brian Horrell said. "All year long we've been about pitching and defense and we got a great pitching performance again, but our defense had hiccups at bad times."
Oran's first run tied the game 1-1 in the fifth inning.
A ball misplayed by the Chaffee infield allowed Adam Schaefer to safely reach first. During the next at-bat, Oran's Bear Hicks took a fastball to deep right-centerfield for a double allowing Schaefer to score all the way from first.
"Evidently, the scouting report wasn't good because he can hit a fastball. You throw him that, he can hit a little bit," Wood said about Hicks, who is the Eagles' No. 8 hitter. "The bottom of my order, whose been struggling, was real patient and they're the ones that got things going for us."
The deciding run was also the result of a Chaffee miscue.
In the top of the ninth, and runners on first and second, a ground ball to the Red Devil infield looked to be a prime opportunity to turn a double play. The throw to second was off line which bounced into right field and rolled into foul territory.
Oran's Seth Ressel, who was standing on second, scored on the play which ended Davie's day on the hill.
"Unfortunately, it was a hiccup that cost us the second run," Horrell said. "But, you've got to tip your hat to (Oran) they had something to do with that. They put the pressure on us."
Cody Payne entered in relief and ended the inning with a fly ball and a strikeout stranding two Eagle runners in scoring position.
The Red Devils were able to put the tying run on second and the possible winning run on first after Devon Yahn advanced on an error and an intentional walk to Payne.
"I don't do that often," Wood said about putting the winning run on. "As a matter of fact, it could be the first time I've ever did that. I hate that crap more than anything. I'm a feeling guy. I felt something there."
Wood's feeling's didn't falter as a fly ball to left field ended the game.
Following a rousing triple by Chaffee's Alex Crowe, the Red Devils captured an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second. A sacrifice fly by Layton Tenkhoff pushed in Chaffee's one and only run of the game.
"We had a chance to get a conference championship today and we did what we wanted to do," Wood said. "Our next step is districts and then state. A lot of people said this wasn't important to us, but it was. It was a very important game to us. We were excited, as you could see we played well, the kids played hard."
Oran 000 010 001 -- 2 4 3
Chaffee 010 000 000 -- 1 3 4
WP -- Kody Moore. LP -- Alex Davie. 2B -- (O) Bear Hicks. 3B -- (C) Alex Crowe.