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Werner, Crusader baseball on fire

Shortstop's three-run blast clinches win


As Trent Werner goes, so does the Jesuit summer baseball squad.

And, boy are they both rolling through the OIBA docket right now.

The Crusader shortstop continued his scalding summer campaign on Monday against Reynolds, lifting a weary and heavy-legged Jesuit team with two doubles and a three-run deciding homer in the sixth inning for a 9-6 triumph. Jesuit has won 15 out its last 16 games.

Werner’s three-run clincher was dead and buried from the moment he turned his hands and extended. The previous at-bat, Reynolds’ pitcher hung a couple of curveballs to Werner and caused the Crusader to ground out to shortstop. Detecting another hanger somewhere around the belt, Werner stayed back and yoked it to the protective netting in left-center field. by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit shortstop Trent Werner celebrates his three-run homer with Evan Haberle and Josh Anderson in the sixth inning of the Crusaders win.

The blast gave Jesuit enough buffer to get by the lively Raiders.

“You have to own the box, you can’t let him dictate what he’s going to do on the mound,” said Werner. “You have to plan ahead and dictate what the pitcher does. That helps all the hitters on our team.”

The senior is on an untouchable tear right now, hitting five homers in the Crusaders’ last four games. With usual table setter Evan Haberle playing primarily for MoundTime this summer, Werner has found a home as Jesuit’s leadoff guy and feasted on a good helping of fastballs in the zone.

Werner said he’s been hitting every day regardless of whether Jesuit’s played a game or not, and the result has been a smoother swing at the plate. The even-tempered batting formulation has renewed Werner’s confidence. These days the senior is able to get into deep battles with the opposing pitcher and come out triumphant.

“I’m not so jerky. It’s more of a fluid motion, and that’s helped me hit the ball to all parts of the field,” said Werner. “Summer ball is just a good time to get better and improve. I’ve just felt more relaxed in the box and tried not to do too much. I’m just trying to make contact, and that’s working a lot.”

Play at full speed

Monday was Jesuit’s fifth game in as many days, and some of the Crusaders worked all day on Saturday and Sunday for their home Shamrock Tournament. Jesuit built a 5-2 first inning lead after Ken Carlson clubbed a two-run double down the third base line, Tanner Ueland notched an RBI single, and Josh Anderson tallied a sac fly. Yet, Reynolds rallied with two runs in the fourth and one in the fifth, all with two outs. by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit sophomore pitcher Chris Arpan ducks away from a pitch against Reynolds on Monday.

The fatigue was obvious for the first five innings as Jesuit let Reynolds loiter around in a game that had no bearing on the OIBA playoff picture.

But, before the bottom of the fifth, head coach Tim Massey pulled his tired team behind the home dugout and urged them to close the contest with some combative steam. To Massey, it doesn’t matter if it’s a non-league summer game or a first-place Metro standoff with Westview in the spring. He preaches competing and playing at full speed every day and won’t accept anything less.

“We were flat mentally, but we got our focus together,” said Carlson. “We’re at home, playing against a good team, it was just a great time. We love the game, we love to play.”

In a bizarre second inning occurrence, sophomore infielder Donovan Baldocchi was popped in the left shoulder by a foul ball, standing in the on-deck circle off the bat of left-handed hitting Alex Anderson. Play was stopped as Baldocchi ran down the third base line and bent over at the waist, squirming in pain, and his wrist twitching uncontrollably. by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit second baseman Michael Skayhan turns a double play in the second inning of the Crusaders win over Reynolds on Monday.

The hurting ended up not being as bad as Baldocchi first believed, and since the ball hit his non-throwing shoulder, the righty sophomore gritted his teeth and took the bump for the Crusaders in the sixth. Breaking off filthy sliders and roasting fastballs, Baldocchi showed he has a lot of heart, escaping bases-loaded jams in the sixth and seventh all with his left appendage pulsating in pain.

“It felt great being able to throw like that, but I was kind of surprised after my arm got hit,” said Baldocchi. “Trent helped me out a lot with that three-run shot. I was jacked after that. It kind of eased everything.”

Baldocchi said he’s more of utility player than a pitcher but wants to do whatever he can to help the team. And, with Massey running out of arms because of the Crusaders’ busy schedule, Baldocchi had to come through and he did.

“I got kind of nervous when they had the bases loaded, one out, and the tying run at the plate but I worked through it, got out of it,” said Baldocchi.

Unexpected intensityby: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit first baseman Colton French jumps for a line drive in the seventh inning of the Crusaders win over Reynolds.

Baldocchi’s injury was one of many strange events that took place throughout the contest. The umpires didn’t show up until the third inning so each team had an assistant coach officiate the start of the contest. Later in the game, both squads’ coaches were confined to the dugout in the sixth for incessantly arguing, first with the second-rate umps, and then verbally sparring with each other.

Massey took exception to Reynolds’ pitcher hitting Colton French in the helmet with a fastball and let the Raiders’ coaching staff know about it as he checked on French’s head.

Cooler heads prevailed and everybody went home in one piece, but the unexpected intensity was palpable from end-to-end.

“It was crazy to see all that stuff, it just shows that people really love the game, even if nothing’s on the line,” said Carlson. “It was a cool atmosphere to be apart of, almost a playoff feel. We didn’t let all the other stuff with the coaches get in the way of our play, especially toward the end.”

Carlson heaped praise on Baldocchi, Chris Arpan and catcher Tucker Hamilton for their ability to pick up the slack left behind by Jesuit’s talented core of graduated seniors. Arpan started on Monday and only gave up two earned runs. At the plate, Arpan’s been on Werner’s level, hitting four homers in three games.

Carlson, one of the crucial seniors on the team, believes the longer Jesuit can stay alive in the OIBA tournament, which starts next week, the more self-assurance the Crusaders will have next spring. Last year Jesuit reached the OIBA championship against Lake Oswego and went to extra innings with the Lakers before dropping the contest.

“That built a lot of confidence for us,” said Carlson. “It was like ‘Hey, we can compete with some of the top teams out here.’ We made it to the championship, so I feel summer has a lot to do with our confidence rolling into the spring, even though it’s a long time in-between. Summer ball is a time to play, but it’s really important.”

“We’re a little bit more inexperienced compared to last year because we had a lot of good senior leadership, but I think the young guys are doing a really good job of filling in,” said Carlson. “I feel really confident going into the OIBA tournament.”



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