Senior Isaac Hill tossed five innings of hitless ball and hit a two-run homer run Monday morning for host Hidden Valley, which built a 4-0 lead versus Brookings-Harbor and held on for the 5-3 win.
Consider this: last season shortened baseball season produced only two undefeated teams across all of Oregon: 3A champion Brookings-Harbor, which was 16-0; and 4 champion Hidden Valley, which won 18 consecutive games.
Both teams started No. 1 in their respective classifications in the OSAAtoday Baseball Coaches Polls released last week. Hidden Valley received 13 of the 16 first-place votes to top 4A. Brookings-Harbor snagged seven of the 12 first-place votes to top 3A.
Hidden Valley opened 2022 with two dominating wins, tossing no hitters in each. Brookings-Harbor averaged more than 18 runs in its two season-opening runs.
In short, this was an epic, early-season showdown of the best small-schools teams in Oregon.
Hidden Valley prevailed thanks to its two dominant arms. Hill struck out 13 in his five innings on the bump. Fellow senior Nate Vidlak came on in the sixth inning when the Mustangs were in trouble and truck out all five batters he faced to earn the save.
“They have two guys who are dominant pitchers,” said BH head coach Keith Wallin. “They’re in a different class. It’s always fun to compete against them.”
It was a pitcher’s duel for the first couple of innings, as southpaw Ethan Orman, one of seven sophomores on Brookings-Harbor’s 17-player squad; matched Hill out of out.
“Ethan did a great job first time through the order of keeping them off balance,” Wallin said. “He had some sound defense behind him.”
Hill, an Oregon State signee as a pitcher, broke the game open for Hidden Valley with two outs in the third, when he took Orman’s 1-1 fastball over the fence for a 2-0 lead.
“He missed with one pitch in one spot and Isaac got him pretty good,” Wallin commented.
Hidden Valley, which won its first state title last spring, built a 4-0 lead heading to the top of the sixth, when Brookings-Harbor mounted a one-out rally off of reliever Noah Stone. Jason DeShon, Orman and Kyle Burger hit back-to-back-to-back doubles, the first three hits yielded by the Mustangs all season, to cash on two runs. Spencer Rosenberg followed with an RBI single to make it a one-run game. Vidlak, who is mulling several college offers, came on and slammed the door. Hidden Valley got an insurance run in the bottom of the frame, when Nolan Kennedy delivered his third hit of the game and was chased home by a Danny Iwamizu double.
“It was great for us to see such a high quality ball club and be able to compete against them,” said Wallin, whose Bruins won state last year for the first time in school history. “Our team has a lot of sophomores. It proves to them we’re doing a lot of things right and that last year not an anomaly.”
“Brookings has a good program,” said Hidden Valley coach Mark Vidlak. “To get that win sets the tone for us for the season. We want to get better every game.”