The puzzle pieces of the Cottage Grove baseball season are beginning to fit together.
“I feel like we’re on the verge of being a good team. I think right now we’re not a bad team by any means but I just think we’re on the verge and we’re getting some pieces put into place,” said head coach Dan Geiszler. “Last week at this time there was like two pieces in place and now we have like five or six. So it feels a little better to coach.”
Bookended between days of downpour and snow, it was a, mostly, sunny afternoon last Thursday that saw Cottage Grove (2-2) handle Douglas (4-1) on the diamond as they scored a 4-2 victory. Soaking up the sun for the Lions was pitcher Wyatt Sayles who pitched a complete game, gave up just five hits and threw nine strikeouts.
“Well I was able to get two pitches going for the first time this year. Prior games I had pretty much just my fastball going and location. This time I was able to get location, fastball, curveball,” he said.
“They weren’t able to adjust to two pitches. They would either be behind my curveball or behind my fastball so I would stay with my fastball and I could just get them on that and if they got ahead I would just throw my curveball and they would whiff on that. It was good. Felt like midseason again.”
In the first inning Douglas, undefeated coming into the game, briefly got the bats going as they saw two hits and scored the opening run of the game. From then on, the Trojans struggled to get their offense in action.
“First off, Wyatt was really unreal. He pitched really well and if he can do that, we’re going to be pretty tough when he’s on the mound,” said Geiszler.
The bats came alive for the Lions in the third inning with two outs as Payton Frieze and Hunter Sharkey hit singles and Sayles was walked. A Jaace Cross shot to right brought in a run to give the team a 2-1 advantage. Cross finished the game two-for-three with two RBIs.
The Lions defense stayed locked in and another two-run inning in the fifth carried them to their second win on the week.
After worrying about their competitiveness in the opening games of the season, Geiszler has seen his team grow as the season has progressed.
“There’s no doubt that it’s upped a level. And it’s a mentality and we don’t have a lot of naturally hard-nosed, get after it kids. We have to turn a switch a little bit, they have to find an alter-ego and be someone a little different sometimes. They’re all really nice kids and sometimes that’s not the best thing,” he said.
“You have to be angry. You have to play with a chip on your shoulder and have something to prove. And they did a really good job today.”
After a pair of games was rained out over the weekend, the team will have a chance to embrace this hard-nosed mentality at the Hidden Valley Tournament that started yesterday and continues today. League play begins for the team next Tuesday at home against Junction City.