The Bushnell Beacons have had their share of frustrating days in their inaugural season. But this past weekend’s four-game sweep at the hands of Oregon Tech – in which the Beacons held a lead in all four games – might have been the granddaddy of them all.
“Our struggles on the road this past weekend really came from the defensive side of the ball,” assistant coach Jamie Womack said, citing the team’s 11 errors for Saturday’s doubleheader and seven more miscues on Sunday.
“We had good offensive production on Day 1, but could not overcome defensive errors and that cost us. On Day 2 we got phenomenal starts out of two freshmen, Kai Keamo and Jahshua Yacapin, but we were unable to play clean enough defense to support them.”
Bushnell’s losing streak now sits at eight, but the Beacons still are very much alive in the playoff race.
“The most valuable lessons we’ve learned are that you can never stop developing and you can’t allow anyone to settle,” Womack said. “Our expectations from outside the program were not high. However, we believe that this group has high ability and refuse to fold into mediocrity. We’ve had a team rise to that and push to be the best every day. This team has worked extremely hard and will continue to get better.
“Losing leads in all four games this weekend was tough. Our head coach Tommy Richards has been a steady confident leader, but we’ve seen players step up in leadership roles as well. The best teams are led from within and we’ve seen guys such as Kyle Casperson, Jeff Fripp, Jacob Stoner and Abbott Haffar really step up in those roles.”
Stoner went 4-for-4 with 3 RBIs and a stolen base in Saturday’s opening game at Klamath Falls. Trailing 7-0, the Beacons took an 8-7 lead with an 8-run 4th, then scored single runs the next three innings to lead 11-8, but Oregon Tech scored 4 runs in the bottom of the 7th, scoring what proved to be the winning run on an error.
In Saturday’s second game, Bushnell led 6-1 in the 4th inning before another defensive collapse. It was more of the same on Sunday, as the Beacons led 1-0 until the 4th. In that game, however, Casperson got the team’s only two hits. Then in the nightcap, the Beacons took an early 4-1 advantage and led until Oregon Tech exploded for 5 runs in the 8th to blow the game open.
“We’ve seen some really bright spots on our pitching staff,” Womack said. “Abbott Haffar has started to come into his own and even though he is a senior and will be gone at the end of this season he will leave a lasting impression. We have a trio of Hawaiian freshmen who will be the backbone of the staff moving forward. Kai Keamo, Jahshua Yacapin and Jayden Soriano have all made great strides as the season has progressed and have worked their tails off. Trenton Hough, who came to us from Lane Community College, has also shown great promise as an older guy on the staff who will be a leader moving forward.
“The plan and system put in place by (Richards) has been impressive out of a first-year head coach.”