MILTON-FREEWATER - Finally playing under reasonably sunny skies Tuesday, the McLoughlin baseball team heated up against Riverside.
The Pioneers pounced early, scoring 14 runs in the first three innings, and won 18-3 in only five innings of work.
"It's amazing what can happen when you have good weather," Mac-Hi coach Jake Tolan said. "We played two games on Saturday in 30-degree weather and it was a different ball club that showed up for that. Understandably, baseball in cold weather is tough."
That was not an issue against the Pirates (0-4), as Mac-Hi (1-2) spent the first three innings slapping the ball around the park, registering 11 hits and 14 runs during that span.
A.C. Bolling and Ben Croghan did most of the damage for the Pioneers, driving in five runs apiece.
All three of Bolling's hits were extra-base knocks, including a two-run homer that caromed off the scoreboard in the fourth inning.
"I feel a lot better than last year," Bolling said. "I started off really rocky, but now I'm just stepping it up."
Croghan did plenty to help his own cause, collecting three hits and five RBIs, while picking up the win with three strong innings toeing the rubber.
He gave up just three hits - all coming in the third inning - and fanned six batters, highlighted by striking out the side in the second.
"Ben's a good pitcher," Tolan said. "He does really well out there. He has great command on both of his pitches and locates the ball really well ... He could have probably gone one or two more innings, and later in the season we'll certainly ask that of him. When Ben's in there we have full confidence in his abilities."
His opposition, Bryce Doherty, did not have his typical outing, as Mac-Hi's potent bats jumped on him early and often. In Doherty's three innings, he was touched up for 11 hits and 14 runs, while also walking six batters.
According to Riverside coach John Christy, that kind of performance comes as quite a shock, given Doherty's abilities as a pitcher.
"Pitching-wise I don't think we were on our game," Christy said. "Bryce had some balls that were hit hard and you really can't do anything about that. He'll go up against just about anyone's number one (pitcher) usually every day. He may have a little fatigue, he's pitched a lot of innings for us, but he was just off today and that happens. If you're off against a team like Mac-Hi which has hitters who can take advantage of that, it's not very good."
Bolling said it was important to get to Doherty early, and the Pioneers had no trouble doing that. All but two of their starters finished with at least one hit, and all reached base at least once.
Riverside, meanwhile, could not get the bats going, only briefly warming up in the third inning. During a five at-bat stretch, the Pirates picked up all three of their hits, including doubles by J.C. Norling and Doherty to score their only runs of the game.
Doherty, Cody Connell (4) and Harly Orcutt. Ben Croghan, Randy Romero
(4) and Ryley Croghan. W - Croghan (1-1); L - Bryce Doherty (0-3)
- J.C. Norling, Doherty (Riverside); R. Croghan, A.C. Bolling (2), B.
Croghan (Mac-Hi) HR - Bolling (Mac-Hi).