Caden Mathisen said he was tired of letting his team down.
After failing to get on base in his first three at-bats, the Bend junior laced a base hit to center field to score Reece Gordon in the bottom of the seventh and the Lava Bears celebrated a walk-off 2-1 victory at home over rival Mountain View Tuesday.
“I wasn’t really helping my team out too much,” Mathisen said. “I just had to do something for my team. I couldn’t keep letting them down. It was all for the team.”
Bend and Mountain View entered the Civil War game going in opposite directions.
While the Lava Bears were 13-3 overall and No. 2 in the Class 6A rankings, the Cougars had lost six in a row and were seeking their first Mountain Vally Conference win.
“I think we played down to our opponent’s level,” Mathisen said. “We should have beaten them by a lot more. It (the win) just feels good, not great.”
But Bend coach Quinn Clair said Mountain View is better than its now 4-10 record, pointing out that four of the Cougars’ last seven losses were by two runs or fewer.
“I think that number of losses that they’ve had is deceiving,” Clair said. “They’re a good ballclub. They’ve had opportunities to win games. It was the same today.”
Mountain View coach Ryan Johnson said the Cougars have just not been able to get that game-winning hit.
“We’ve been competing all year,” Johnson said. “Of our losses, in the majority of them, we’ve had the winning or tying run on base in the last inning. It’s just bad timely hitting on our part and good pitching on other teams’ part. The breaks will start going our way. We lost a tough one today. We played our hearts out.”
Mountain View pitcher David Lemke shut out the Lava Bears for the first four innings, including escaping a bases-loaded jam in the second.
“That kid (Lemke) did a good job changing speeds, moving in and out,” Clair said. “I don’t think we took our best cuts on good pitches.”
Bend got on the scoreboard in the fifth inning. After getting hit by a pitch, A.J. Lovejoy scored on a two-out single by Kaleb Karpstein.
On the mound, Lovejoy shut out the Cougars over the first five innings.
“Lovejoy is one of our best pitchers and he pumps the zone,” Clair said. “We can count on him every time he comes in.”
Facing Bend senior Kyle Reed, the Cougars tied the game in the sixth inning as Luke Klein was hit by a pitch, advanced to second base on a wild pitch, stole third and then scored on a throwing error.
Reed pitched out of trouble in the seventh, recording a strikeout with runners on first and second, to keep the game tied at 1-1.
“Kyle has been working hard for that moment and he’s going to keep getting moments like that,” Clair said.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Gordon singled and then advanced to second base on a balk to set up Mathisen’s game-winning hit.
Gordon had three of Bend’s seven hits in the game.
“I’m proud of our boys and the way they’ve been playing,” Clair said. “There’s been a couple of games that we’ve let slide against some of those Salem teams. Today, we did enough to win.”
The Lava Bears, who are 4-2 and tied with West Salem for second place in the MVC, host South Salem Saturday in a doubleheader. The Saxons currently lead the conference with a 4-0 record.
“They’re pretty good but so are we,” Clair said of the Saxons. “We’ll be ready.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0307, email@example.com .