Storm baseball team climbs uphill at season’s crest
By Simson Garcia
The peak provides a very different view of things.
Saturday’s double-header against the Corban University JV proved to be a weekend to wind and then unwind during a pivotal climax to an already up-and-down season.
Chemeketa, seven months removed from training camp, finds itself in the middle of the season with a 12-8 record.
From the eye of the Storm’s players and coaches, it’s been an uphill climb since September, when “coach gave us a packet before the season that included a 4-day workout that … included lifting and speed and agility drills in the mornings,” second- year infielder Anthony Martin said.
Coach Nathan Pratt’s mid-season packet now includes an “extensive program that our guys are committed to.
Whether you’re a pitcher, hitter, infielder, it doesn’t matter. It’s 6 days a week, and that includes strength training, speed and agilities. We’ve got some guys even hitting 7 days a week,” Pratt said.
September usually starts with a pool of 60 players and ends up in the spring with the current 28-man roster.
For this players, it’s been more than a physical commitment to stay in shape and build up their skills. The season has required the mental commitment to grow and to mature.
This is usually always the case for freshmen players transitioning from high-school to college.
“We’ve had a lot of growth and a lot of maturation that’s happened,” Pratt said. “We still have a long ways to go. I think we’ve taken positive steps, especially these last couple weeks in which we’ve had some growth. We’ve experienced some failure, which was good failure for us.”
Saturday’s double-header showed a small sampling of that.
After giving up an early run, the Storm battled back in the 2nd inning. Second-year outfielder Nick Livingston drove in a run with a timely hit to center field, locking the score at 1-1.
Corban strategized to get back in the next inning with a series of surprising bunts. One sacrifice bunt led to a pickle toward home, where Corbin was able to score and retake the lead.
But the Storm refused to give up any more runs and tied the game in the third inning after loading the bases.
Storm pitcher Jordan Knoll maintained his composure, and Chemeketa rode his arm successfully for the next few innings.
In all, Knoll retired 7 players before leaving in a late pitching change.
“Although we didn’t pitch great, we pitched well in key situations,” Pratt said.
The Storm then scored three more runs in the fifth inning. Pitching miscues by Corban lead to another double by Livingston, which drove in two runs.
Livingston would later score, bring the score to 6-2.
“Obviously the double from Nick kind of broke things open,” Pratt said. “The key for us was to score runners on third with less than two outs.
“For us, it was to situationally hit better. And really, it’s not about getting more hits but to just create more offense by situational hitting, moving runners and scoring those runners.”
The second game was a tight one, with the Storm prevailing 6-5 with a walk-off single from second-year outfielder Gehrett Moser.
At 12-8 now, the Storm finds itself near the bottom of the southern division in the NWAC standings. With another hill peaked, there’s another mountain to climb.
But after Saturday, it looks as though the Storm is back on track again.
“We expect some really positive things in the coming weeks,” Pratt said.
Next up, it’s back on the road and onto another southern divisional match-up as Chemeketa plays at 4 p.m. April 10 against Mt. Hood and then returns home against Mt. Hood at 2 p.m. on April 12.