JOHN DAY – The league champion Grant Union Prospectors advance into the baseball postseason this Wednesday, as they host the Dufur Rangers in the first round of state playoffs at 3 p.m. at Malone Field.
Admission is $6 for adults and $4 for students.
Grant Union faced Dufur in the state playoffs last year, when the Prospectors went on to claim the state championship title. In that meeting, the Prospectors beat the Rangers, 17-3.
This year the Rangers could give Grant Union some stiff competition.
The Prospectors fell to Dufur 8-12 early in the season at the Les Schwab Icebreaker.
Dufur finished its season 12-2 in the 2A/1A-Special District 6, 22-6 overall. The Rangers are ranked No. 6 in state.
Grant Union is 12-0 for the season for 2A/1A-Special District 7, 18-6 overall, and ranked No. 11 in state.
“They’ll be tough – they’re a good hitting team,” said Prospector head coach Brian Delaney. He said Dufur’s starting pitcher is one they’ll have to watch.
“Cole Parke is a good pitcher, throws decently hard and has slurve (a mix between a slider and curve ball),” he said. “He throws a decent offspeed pitch.
“If we can put pressure on their pitcher early and keep our foot on the gas, we should be able to pull that one out.”
He urged the community to attend the game.
“Please come out and support our boys and help us get through this first round,” he said.
Pros vs. Panthers
Last Friday, neighboring teams Grant Union and Prairie City played a friendly game on the Panthers’ home field.
The game was more about the love of the game than the score, the participants said.
Grant Union had a shutout game in five innings, 65-0.
Delaney said his seasoned players had to take the game seriously and try to get quality at-bats, but soon they were replaced with the younger players from the bench. The Prospectors also stopped stealing bases after the first inning in a show of sportsmanship, as they faced a new and much less experienced team.
Pitching for Prairie City were Wyatt Williams, Ethan Camarena (two innings), Devin Packard and Marlayna Woodbury.
Camarena had 19 first pitch strikes and two strikeouts, Wyatt Williams had eight first pitch strikes and Packard had six.
Packard had the only hit for Prairie City in the game, and Marika Woodbury and Ethan Camarena each got on base with a walk.
Panther first baseman Amaya Zweygardt made the stretch to get six Prospector runners out in the game. Wyatt Williams caught four outs in the game, Anthony Hall caught three outs in the outfield and catcher Klayten McGill tagged two out.
Grant Union started strong with 10 runs in the first inning, but went on a hitting spree in the second, adding 31 to their lead.
Packard held the Prospectors to 3 runs, pitching for the Panthers in the fourth, and Grant Union gained 11 more runs in the fifth to finish the game.
Prospector Lane Williams had nine RBIs off of six hits. He had a two-run homer in the second.
Rayce Houser ran in three Prospectors off a triple in the second.
Grant Union tried a different pitcher for each inning, even giving their catcher Tyler Manitsas a turn at the mound in the fifth. Other Prospectors in the circle were Lane Williams, Dalton Reimers, Billy Copenhaver and Brady Burch.
“We tried everything possible to keep the score down,” Delaney said. “I’ve got to give Prairie City credit, Mark Woodbury and their coaching staff are going in the right direction. Their players were learning baseball and having fun, and that says a lot for a team.”