Experience should be one of the Oregon baseball team’s calling cards this season.
That quality was on display as the Panthers defeated rival Stoughton 7-1 in a season-opening game on Tuesday, April 5, at Oregon High School.
Stoughton got base runners to put some pressure on the Oregon defense, but three Panther pitchers combined for seven strikeouts, no earned runs and stranded eight Viking base runners.
“Being able to live to see another day and work through some adversity is exactly what we wanted today,” Oregon head coach Jacob Soule said. “We want to put some pressure on our kids to work through those. We’re a very experienced group, so I expected them to perform, but I was happy with the pressure they put on us defensively.”
The Panthers — who return seven starters — were led on offense by senior Tyler Soule, who hit a home run to go along with a game-high two runs.
Oregon took advantage of some Stoughton miscues in the top of the first inning. Starting pitcher Jack Walter scored on a dropped third strike and then Tyler Soule scored on an error for a 2-0 lead.
Soule gave the Panthers some insurance with a solo home run to left field in the fifth inning after three straight scoreless innings.
“I saw a fast ball high and in and let the hands go through,” Soule said. “That was the result.”
Stoughton got on the board in the bottom of the inning when Joe Waldorf singled on a line drive to right field to score starting pitcher Leighton Hart. The run cut the deficit down to 3-1.
The Panthers made it 5-1 in the top of the sixth. Carter Goltz doubled on a line drive to score James Heller for the first run of the inning. The Vikings got multiple base runners in the bottom of the sixth, but a fielder’s choice ended the inning.
“We made the plays that we had to,” Tyler Soule said, “The pitching was great today. Not many balls were put in play. That was a big reason for our success today.”
Brayden Fry extended the Oregon advantage to 7-1 when he scored Andrew Niaves and himself with an inside the park home run in the top of the seventh. The Panthers retired the side in order to end the game in the bottom of the inning.
The game was originally supposed to be played in Stoughton, but was moved to Oregon because of field condition issues. The Vikings still played as the home team.
Walter started the game on the mound for Oregon and gave up just one hit, no runs and struck out four.
“I look at Jack Walter setting the tone, throwing 57 pitches through four innings,” Jacob Soule said. “Something he struggled with was his control last year. I thought he did a really good job of just pounding the strike zone.”
Goltz came on in relief and struck out two batters in a pair of innings. Brock Buskager got the save.
Jacob Soule said he was pleased with how his pitchers threw strikes and were able to work out of jams.
Fry finished with a game-high two RBIs.
“One through nine everybody can hit, everybody can do something,” Tyler Soule said. “As we go on in the year I think we’re going to get more locked in and start to score some more runs.”