A first inning run for the Roseburg High baseball team was all that was needed on a day that saw a pair of pitchers dominate opposing hitters.
Roseburg junior Dominic Tatone outdueled South Medford’s Bennett Thompson for a 1-0 victory at Harry and David Field in Medford on Tuesday.
Tatone and Thompson combined to allow just six hits and struck out 20 hitters as they shutdown each other’s lineups. Thompson cut down a season-high 12 batters, while Tatone fanned eight.
“I thought Bennett Thompson did a great job for South and, as advertised, he throws very well and had us off balance and chasing it all day long,” said Roseburg coach Troy Thompson. “And I can’t say enough about Dominic Tatone on the mound. What a great start he had. Six innings of what he did. Got out of a couple of tough spots there.”
It was edge-of-your-seat drama as each starting pitcher worked through jams to keep the game close, knowing one misstep could flip the momentum at any moment.
“I was pretty comfortable until (they) got a few runners on,” said Tatone. “We played great defense. When the defense is playing like that, I’m allowed to work a little bit more freely because I know the defense has got my back.”
Roseburg gained the upper hand in the top of the first on a double that Tatone admits was more luck than skill.
With leadoff hitter Austin Takahashi at second after getting hit by a pitch to start the game, Tatone hit a weak line drive over the head of third baseman Carson Joe. Tatone said he barely made contact with the pitch that was in on his hands, but it was enough to drop the ball in a spot that South Medford’s defense couldn’t cover.
As the ball rolled around, Takahashi came in to score the game’s only run.
“It’s a little bittersweet,” Tatone said of his softly hit double. “I wanted to piece up a ball, but a run’s a run, and a win’s a win. That was a big moment right there, especially with a guy like (Thompson) on the mound.”
From that point it was a fight to see which team could avoid giving up the big play.
Roseburg (4-1) got runners in scoring position three times after the first inning, but each time Thompson snuffed out the threat. He pitched the complete game, allowing four hits.
South Medford (3-1) had big opportunities to erase the shutout in the third and sixth.
Roseburg’s coaching staff chose to intentionally walk Thompson in the third to load the bases with two outs and Tatone made the gamble payoff with a strikeout of Joe to finish the inning.
“That was a big moment right there,” said Tatone.
The sixth inning provided another big moment when the Panthers used a double steal to put runners at second and third with one out. Elijah Havey hit a sharp groundball at Roseburg second baseman Sebastian Watson and he cleanly collected and threw home where Knox Hubbard tagged out Thompson trying to score.
Tatone finished the sixth with another strikeout to end South’s scoring chance.
Garrett Zeimet took over in the seventh on the mound and tossed a 1-2-3 inning to preserve Roseburg’s win and record his first save of the year.
“This is a big momentum swing for us, but now we have to focus on Saturday,” Tatone said. “We can’t hold on to it for too long. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Roseburg will return home to Bill Grey Legion Stadium at Champion Car Wash Field on Saturday for a doubleheader against Grants Pass. Game one is scheduled to start at noon.
Tatone, Zeimet (7) and Hubbard. Thompson and Sewell. W — Tatone (2-0). L — Thompson (1-1). S — Zeimet (1). 2B — Tatone (R), Zeimet (R).