Drifters Turn Things Around at Home

By Henry Davis-Piger

The Drifters won the first of six straight games against the Cowlitz Black Bears at home with a 9-5 victory on Friday night. This win helps turn things around after three straight losses on the road to the Bend Elks.

The atmosphere was lively at Hamlin Field, especially with an enthusiastic crowd of kids attending for KidSports Day. Drifters skipper Alan Embree has seen bigger attendance and excitement at home this year.

“Playing at home is always the best medicine after a long road trip,” Embree said.

Starting pitcher Kaden Starr was credited with the win after holding the Black Bears to two runs over five innings. In the first inning, he retired three straight batters. Trouble brewed for the Drifters in the top of the second when sloppy fielding contributed to two Black Bear runs. However, the Drifters responded in the bottom of the second with four runs. Andrew Gauna led off with a solo shot. The remaining three runs were less flashy, coming from four straight walks and two singles.

Kaden Starr held the Black Bears scoreless until Trevor Hammond came in and kept up the momentum in the top of the sixth. There were no runs and no hits thanks to Hammond and great defense, notably a remarkable play at first by Brandon Stinnett. Tyler Biddinger replaced Hammond and held them scoreless in the seventh and eighth innings.

Hamlin Field came back to life in the bottom of the eighth when player of the game Gage Bruce scored from first base on a double from Ethan Buckley. This ignited a spree of six hits and five runs. The Black Bears attempted to rally in the top of the ninth, but their efforts fell short.

Brandon Stinnett excelled with three RBIs, while Gage Bruce contributed a 2-for-4 performance and scored two runs. Ethan Buckley added two runs and an RBI, and Andrew Guana hit a solo home run and collected two RBIs.

On the mound, starter Kaden Starr delivered a strong performance, supported by relievers Trevor Hammond and Tyler Biddinger, who effectively maintained momentum. Kaden Alberghini came in to get the final two outs and earn the save, sealing the Drifters’ win.

Embree acknowledged that the Drifters have had a slow start to the season, with players joining late. He feels the team is now coming together.

“It was close to a complete game for us, if it wasn’t for the six outs we gave them in the second inning,” he said.

The Drifters (4-9) will have a chance to keep up their newfound momentum on Saturday when they face the Cowlitz Black Bears (4-5) at home again.