By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
MARYSVILLE — Anyone who saw the Archbishop Murphy baseball team play on Wednesday would be hard-pressed to point out a weakness in the Wildcats.
They pitched well, ran the bases well, played small ball to perfection, hit for power and most importantly won the game, clinching the Cascade Conference regular-season championship with a 12-1 victory over Lakewood.
“It feels good,” Archbishop Murphy coach Stan Taloff said. “That’s four (Cascade Conference championships) in a row and it’s not easy to do that in baseball. So our guys came out and took it on as a championship game and played with that kind of intensity all the way around.”
Taloff, who is never one to look too far ahead, believes in the importance of winning every inning and Wednesday his team delivered. The Wildcats scored a run in every inning and outscored the Cougars in all seven.
“That’s what you have to do to win championships, you have to play really well as a team,” Wildcats catcher Alex Galgano said. “They are a good team, a really well-coached team and if we keep them off the base paths, they can’t do what they like to do, which is run. We did a really good job today.”
The Wildcats kicked off the scoring in the first two innings by displaying clutch two-out hitting. Levi MaVorhis hit an RBI single in the first inning with two outs and Trever Morrison did the same in the second.
“I think we had quality at-bats today, especially with two strikes,” Taloff said. “The first two runs that we scored, one in the first and one in the second, were both scored after two were out. So, it’s a team that is really coming together that can do all of those type of things.”
After displaying their ability to hit in pressure situations, the Wildcats decided to show off their power.
Galgano put Archbishop Murphy up 3-0 by clearing the left-field fence with plenty of room to spare in the third inning. An inning later, Morrison cleared the right-field fence with a towering two-run homer that made the score 5-0. The Wildcats added two more runs before the end of the inning to take a 7-0 advantage.
“Nobody in high school ever walks up to the plate and says I’m going to hit a home run,” Taloff said. “What we want to have happen is for them to get the good part of the bat on the good part of the ball as much as possible and long balls take care of themselves.
“Nobody is ever going for one, but the two guys that hit one today are good hitters. Both Morrison and Galgano are both quality ballplayers.”
Galgano and Morrison each finished 3-for-4. Galgano had two RBI and a solo home run while Morrison had three RBI and a two-run shot.
Besides a potent offense, the Wildcats got strong pitching from starter Talor Okada and reliever Zander Clouse. Okada threw four innings, giving up just three hits and striking out four. Clouse pitched three innings, giving up three hits and striking out five.
Taloff praised both pitchers.
“He’s got a real live fastball,” Taloff said of Okada. “The issue has been his control because he can throw it by guys at the high-school level. He’s got a great fastball. But he hasn’t been out that much because we’ve had situations where we have been able to use other parts of our staff.
Clouse picked up right where Okada left off, striking out the side in the fifth inning.
“He’s been very consistent all year,” Taloff said. “He keeps the ball down, throws in the high 80s and is perfecting his offspeed pitch very well. He came in real strong.”
The end result was perhaps the most complete game the Wildcats have played this season — one that earned them a Cascade Conference championship.
“I think it was our best game of the year,” MaVorhis said. “Coach talked about it. We were hustling on and off the field, and we just kind of (kept) the energy up in the dugout the whole time, which is good because we haven’t really had a full game of that. So, it was good to just stay focused and keep it on them.”
Hunter Fritz batted 2-for-2 for Lakewood and provieded the Cougars’ only run, scoring on a RBI single by Brandon Stott.
At Lakewood H.S.
Talor Okada, Zander Clouse (5) and Alex Galgano. Andrew Bean, Bradley Keen (5) and Adam Oppliger. WP—Okada (2-0). LP—Bean. 2B—Casey Dawes (AM), Hunter Fritz (L). HR—Galgano (AM), Trevor Morrison (AM) Records—Archbishop Murphy 15-0 league, 15-1 overall. Lakewood 8-4, 10-5.