Entering the 2015 season much of the talk surrounding the top of the Metro League focused on No. 8 Westview and No. 3 Beaverton, and deservedly so after the two teams shared the Metro League title last year.
However, it is No. 9 Southridge (9-3, 4-0), who used a big sixth inning to knock off third-ranked Beaverton (9-5, 3-2) 4-1 on Wednesday night, that sits atop the Metro League through the early part of the league season.
“Nobody gave us any credit,” Southridge head coach Tim Mooney said. “We like being the underdog.”
The Skyhawks, who finished fifth in the Metro League last season, are now on a six-game winning streak thanks to complete team efforts like the one they put together on Wednesday.
Southridge got a great starting pitching performance Graham Sheehan, who threw five-plus innings, giving up just one run on five hits. The senior right-hander didn’t record a strikeout, relying on his defense to make plays, which they did without committing an error. Then, the Skyhawks’ bats finally got going in the sixth inning to take the lead for good.
“We’re good at playing small ball. We’re good with the big sticks if we need it. We got really good defense and good pitching,” Mooney said. “It’s all working right now.”
Despite Sheehan’s strong outing, the Skyhawks found themselves trailing 1-0 after a Kevin Watson RBI double in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Skyhawks, who left runners in scoring position in the second and third innings, finally got to Beaverton starting pitcher Sam Noyer in the sixth inning.
“We failed on a couple little things but we didn’t let that affect us,” Mooney said. “We’ve been in a lot of tight ball games this year and it really showed today.”
The inning began with a Beaverton error, opening the door for Southridge. Parker Stidham made the Beavers pay with a two-run blast over the left field wall to put the Skyhawks ahead 2-1.
“I was just trying to work up the middle, just get a base hit to get the guy over from second,” Stidham said. “I ended up getting around on it and taking it out.”
The Skyhawks did not let up after Stidham’s homer. A walk and another Beavers error gave Southridge runners on first and second, still with no outs. Sheehan helped his cause with an RBI single, which was followed by an RBI double by Cam Nowack to give the Skyhawks the 4-1 lead and chase Noyer.
Still, Southridge had to finish. After a Rob Valentine double to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning for Beaverton, Kolton Shreve came in to relieve Sheehan. The left-hander retired Beaverton’s 3-4-5 hitters in order and completed the save in the seventh inning.
“I had no doubt he was going to do well,” Mooney said of Shreve. “He was probably our number one or two pitcher coming into the season.”
Southridge remains the only undefeated team in the Metro League, and is without a loss against teams from Oregon.
“Even as a team we came in with the middle of the pack mentality,” Stidham said. “Now that we’re winning ball games, we’re starting to surprise some people and ourselves, and we’re really liking it.”
The Skyhawks will put its undefeated league mark on the line again in the second game of the two-game series with Beaverton on Thursday at Southridge High School.
Check out photos from the game.
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