Drifters Defeat Sockeyes on Walk-Off HBP

By Ryan Oppenheimer

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — The Springfield Drifters defeated the Sawtooth Sockeyes 3-2 Friday night on a ninth-inning walk-off hit-by-pitch of Elijah Maris.

Maris’s RBI was set up by a ninth-inning leadoff triple by Player of the Game Dylan Osborne, who then scored on an Andrew Gauna sacrifice fly to tie it at 2-2. With two outs and the bases loaded, Maris was plunked on the first pitch of his at-bat, plating pinch runner Tyler Biddinger.

The victory ensures a perfect 4-0 non-league schedule for Springfield, including two consecutive walk-off wins over the Sockeyes, an independent team in Idaho. Friday’s win was much faster than Thursday’s 14-inning affair that saw the Drifters use seven pitchers before Rex DeAngelis ended it with a sac fly.

In an effort to rest a tired pitching staff heading into the second half of league play, Drifters manager Rocco Ferrari went with a true bullpen-game approach, deploying seven more pitchers for no longer than two innings each. The strategy worked; Drifter pitchers didn’t allow any scores after the first two innings.

Normally stationed at first base, the young Ferrari swapped places with regular manager Alan Embree today. It wasn’t the first time he’s stepped in as skipper; he also managed last weekend’s road series in Cowlitz in which Springfield won two of three.

Regardless of the outcomes of these non-league games — which do not count toward the team record or statistics — the Drifters will re-enter WCL play having won four of their last five series. Still, it’s encouraging to see the team maintaining momentum through the halftime intermission.

“It’s good that the guys are coming out the yard even though it’s non-league games and still playing hard and still respecting the game,” Ferrari said.

The Drifters (12-15, 5th in WCL South) will kick off the second half of league play at Hamlin against the Corvallis Knights (22-5, 1st in WCL South) Sunday at 7:35 p.m. It will be the seventh of nine meetings between the two clubs. Springfield won the first two in shutout fashion before losing the next four.

“Given this non-league week, everyone will be rested and ready and energized to come out and play a meaningful game on Sunday against one of the better teams in the league and hopefully a team we’re competing against in the playoffs,” Ferrari said.