Hilander Dental had weathered a very difficult summer.
The uncertainty looming every morning. It played its home games an hour’s drive from home in a different state. It pulled together a group which hadn’t played baseball in any meaningful way in a year.
And it started 19-4, headed to Bend for its season-ender.
But for the first time all season, the Dentists dropped consecutive games, falling 6-1 and 6-4 to host Boss Baseball at Vince Genna Stadium on Wednesday.
“It’s a bummer it ended like that, but the guys had a great season,” coach Joe Bair said. “We finished 19-6 and had a lot of fun along the way.”
Rees Hall, who is headed to Carrillo College near Santa Cruz, California, had a pair of hits with a triple to lead the Dentists in the full-length opener, and Ethan Lindstrom (Linn-Benton) drove in a run with a two-bagger and Ashden Niemeyer added a double, as well.
Hilander Dental took an early 1-0 lead on Lindstrom’s double, but the Dentists failed to add any others. It outhit Boss 8-6, though just had the one run to show for it.
“We had the bases loaded at least twice, on time with nobody out,” Bair said. “They pulled their infield in, and I think we had a pop fly and a strikeout, then they put their infield back and we hit a ball hard, but they ran it down in the outfield.”
Starter Dawson Evenson was admirable through the first four innings, holding a good Boss lineup scoreless, but some defensive miscues in the fifth in Brayden Markham’s first inning in relief led to a quartet of Boss runs, then Bend added another pair in the seventh to essentially close it out.
The rough fourth inning was an aberration, as Hilander Dental had been a strike-throwing, play-making machine through the season.
“We kicked the ball around a little bit, for sure, and a couple walks thrown in there,” Bair said. “Those kind of things have a tendency to lead to big innings. We’ve been on the other end of that a lot, which is a bummer. It was the other team’s turn, I guess.”
Niemeyer had another double, this time driving in a run, in the nightcap, but this time Boss grabbed early runs in the first and third, taking a quick 3-0 lead, then added a fourth run the bottom half of the fifth inning.
Hilander Dental responded with two in the sixth, though it was offset with a pair of Boss runs in the home half of that frame. After getting outhit in the opener, Boss pounded 10 hits to HD’s seven.
Ben the Dentists did not back down, plating a pair in the top of the seventh, eventually its final inning of the abbreviated, strange season.
But it wasn’t a wasted one.
This group wasn’t completely unfamiliar with each other. Over the course of the season, the Dentists featured guys from 19 different high schools, Bair was amazed at how quickly the group came together.
Some of that had a lot to do with it being the only baseball these guys got, and the last baseball the seniors have before entering the grinder that will be the upcoming college baseball season.
Bair made that a point this season: get better, and quickly, because there won’t be many roster spots available this year.
“There was no waste,” Bair said. “Those guys that are going into their freshman year of college, it’ll probably be the most competitive fall ball — or whatever it’s going to look like — there’s ever been, because there’s guys coming back for their sophomore year. It’s gonna be crowded.
“We just took that approach all year. ‘You guys are getting ready for a really challenging — you were all-league in your little 1A town or 2A town or whatever it is, but you’re just another guy when you get to college. So we had a lot of conversations over the summer about do your best and bring out the best in the other guys.”
Boss Baseball 6, HILANDER DENTAL 1
Rees Hall—2 hits including a triple
Ethan Lindstrom—RBI double
HD 010 000 000—1 8 4
Boss 000 040 20X—6 6 2
Battery: HD – Dawson Evenson, Bradyen Markham (5), and Jake Morrow
Boss Baseball 6, HILANDER DENTAL 4
Ashden Niemeyer—RBI double
HD 000 002 2—4 7 0
Boss 201 012 X—6 10 1
Battery: HD—Dylan Rush, Austin Little (5) and Jake Morrow
“Today was the first time we’ve lost consecutive games all summer. It’s a bummer it ended like that but the guys had a great season. We finished 19-6 and had a lot of fun along the way.”
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