Bend pitcher Caden Mathisen said he did not feel like he had his best stuff Tuesday.
But the lefty’s defense backed him up as Mathisen threw five shutout innings and the Lava Bears held on for their eighth consecutive win, a 4-1 Mountain Valley Conference victory over rival Summit.
“I can do better but my team had my back,” said Mathisen, who allowed three hits and a walk in the five innings. “Defense was solid. I got a lot of ground balls that were opportunities for my defense and they made plays. My defense helped me out and we worked together and got through it.”
Storm pitcher Dylan Ruhl held Bend to one hit and zero runs in the first three innings.
“He’s been battling a little bit of fatigue in his shoulder and it’s his first time out in a couple of weeks,” Summit coach Richie Sexson said of Ruhl, a junior left-hander. “He did a good job. He’s going to win a lot of games for us over the next couple of years.”
But Ruhl ran into trouble in the bottom of the fourth.
Bend leadoff hitter Kyle Reed walked to start the inning and then scored the first run of the game on an RBI single by Reece Gordon.
“He (Ruhl) threw me a low curveball and I saw the gap between short and third and I decided to put it right through there to try to get that run scored,” said Gordon, who was 2-for-3 at the plate.
Gordon then scored on a single by Tysen Scott. Cooper Simmonds added an RBI double to give the Lava Bears a 3-0 lead.
“Dylan Ruhl pitched a heck of a three innings and went through our lineup,” Bend coach Quinn Clair said. “That kid is a heck of a pitcher. One of our kids’ greatest qualities is we don’t get flustered and we don’t panic and we keep our cool. Today we did that and the second time through the lineup we were more prepared and squared him up.”
The Lava Bears added a fourth run in the sixth inning. Simmonds singled to lead off the frame and then scored on a ground ball by Mathisen.
Summit plated its only run in the seventh when Gus Martin walked and scored on a ground ball by Andrew Ryan.
“Mathisen did a good job of getting ahead of our guys and if he gets ahead he’s pretty tough,” Sexson said. “We never really scared them too much.”
Cole Parker got the final six outs for Bend, recording four strikeouts over two innings.
Michael Schutz had two of the Storm’s three hits.
The loss dropped Summit to 2-5. The Storm, who are scheduled to host a doubleheader Friday against South Salem, have yet to even practice on their own field, where the melt-off was slow after heavy late-winter snow.
“It’s a pond,” Sexson said. “We could fish in it more than we could play baseball. We’re in the gym or we’re hitting in somebody’s batting cage at their house. It’s been a rough start. We need to get outside and work on some things.”
Bend improved to 10-1. The Lava Bears, No. 2 in the 6A OSAA rankings, host West Salem Friday for two games.
“It’s been a great start,” Clair said. “I think we have a lot to prove. You’re a team that comes into 6A from 5A and other teams are probably looking down upon you. We don’t really care who we play. We’re trying to be our best selves and that’s what we’re preaching.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0307, firstname.lastname@example.org