The Roseburg Indians take on the Crater Comets in a pivotal Southern Oregon Conference doubleheader Saturday. The games will be a test of the top two teams in the conference and could prove to be the turning point for either team’s shot at the conference title.
Roseburg has long been seen as a favorite in the state for a championship run. The team boasts two senior pitchers that have plans to play at the Division-I level next year. Then there’s Crater. The team finished in last place (5-11) in conference play last year, their first at the 6A level. In the coach’s poll taken at the start of the season, the Comets were picked to finish last again this year.
Crater has shocked the conference. The team has wins over defending state champion Westview and North Medford. Both teams are ranked in the top 5 in the state OSAA poll. The Comets were the first 6A team in the state to 13 wins and could easily be sitting undefeated at 14-0 if not for a come-from-behind, extra innings loss to North Medford. Now the upstart team sits ahead of the three-time defending conference champs in the latest OSAA rankings.
The Indians showed signs of inconsistency at the plate to start the year, but the team gathered themselves after a 9-1 loss against 8th ranked Summit in Pendleton. Since that lopsided loss, Roseburg has won 10 straight, scored double-digits in seven of those games, and has won by an average of 10 runs. The Indians have allowed just one run over their last five games.
It’s likely we’ll see Roseburg’s aces Josh Graham and Jared Priestley start Saturday. Graham comes in with a 5-0 record and a 1.21 ERA. The power throwing righty also has a team high 51strike outs. Priestley is 4-0 with an even more impressive 0.70 ERA and has struck out 23. The pair have walked a combined 11 hitters in 49.0 innings pitched.
Crater’s offense seems to be their strength this season. The team is lead by big hitters senior Corey Wynant and sophomore Blake Fahndrich. Each player has four home runs this year. The Comets have senior leadership on the mound with Matt Preston and Chris Painter, but they have also been helped by sophomore Nolan Bastendorff, who has a 4-0 record on the hill.
Both of Saturday’s game can be heard on Fox Sports Radio 1490 The Score and online at 541radio.com. Pregame for the opener is scheduled for 11:45 A.M.