DIXON – Jared Frey can do some good things on a baseball diamond, but motor around the basepaths at breakneck speed isn’t one of them.
The hulking Northern Colorado football recruit was just fast enough, however, to score the game-winning run for Dixon in a wild 11-10 victory over Oregon on Saturday morning at Veterans Memorial Field.
The Dukes (8-16) and Hawks (7-11) entered the bottom of the seventh tied at 10. Ryan Dixon led off by reaching on an error and moved up on a wild pitch.
Frey laced a base hit to right-center field. The ball was scooped up by right fielder Mason Smith, a sophomore making his first varsity start. He fired the ball home to catcher Adam Bettner, who blocked the plate and tagged Dixon.
The next batter, Dan Pultorak, laced a shot down the left-field line. Frey, who took second on his hit, chugged toward third and received a verbal go-ahead from Dixon coach Sam Gallucci.
Frey barely beat the tag of Bettner, who had to veer slightly to his right to receive a relay throw.
“I gave coach a look when that ball came through and I started over for third,” Frey said. “He said, ‘Do whatever,’ and I took off and hoped for the best. The throw was a little wide, and I just got in there.”
Gallucci considered holding Frey, but Oregon left fielder Matt Murray briefly bobbled the ball.
“I was trying to watch what the fielder was doing with the ball, and Jared was on top of me,” Gallucci said. “I didn’t know whether to send him or not. When the fielder scooped up the ball, it looked like he fumbled it for a split second, and I sent him.”
Pultorak was watching the play while heading toward second base, hoping his teammate could somehow make it home.
“I was like, ‘Oh man, he’d better get on his horse,’” Pultorak said. “He just barely made it in there. He did some good work today.”
Both squads had control of the game at one point or another.
Oregon seized a 4-0 lead in the top of the second, thanks in part to a run-scoring wild pitch, then an error by Dixon third baseman Cal Jarrett that allowed two more runs to score.
Dixon roared back with nine runs in the next three innings. Frey hit a three-run double to highlight a four-run second inning, while Nate Grocke’s two-run triple was the key blow in a four-run fourth.
Trailing 9-4, Oregon put up six runs in the top of the fifth inning. Bettner and Joey Rowe had back-to-back two-run doubles, and Tyler Blume and Sawyer Reynolds added RBI singles. Reynolds’ hit scored Blume and gave the Hawks a 10-9 lead.
The Dukes tied it, however, with an unlikely run in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, Jarrett singled, then went to second on a wild pitch. The next batter, Kelson Spinden, struck out, but the ball got away from Bettner and went all the way to the backstop.
Spinden got a late jump on the play, and Bettner tried to throw him out at first. The throw, however, was slightly high, and eluded first baseman Blume and second baseman Paul Rypkema, who were both near the bag. Jarrett came around from second to score the game-tying run.
“It was just a miscommunication,” Oregon coach Adam Albrecht said, “and it was a big play in this game.”
Both squads had multiple offensive stars. For the Hawks, Bettner went 3-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and two RBIs; Rowe had a two-run double and scored twice; and Matt Murray went 1-for-2 with two walks, two runs scored an an RBI.
For the Dukes, Frey went 3-for-4 with a double, four RBIs and two runs scored; Pultorak went 3-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and one run; and Jarrett went 1-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored.
John Thomas (2-6) got the win with one inning of scoreless relief. A nifty, inning-ending double play turned by Spinden got Thomas out of a potential jam.
Star of the game: Jared Frey, Dixon, 3-for-4, 2B, 4 RBI, 2 R
Key performers: Dan Pultorak, Dixon, 3-for-4, 2 RBI, 1 R, GW 2B; Adam Bettner, Oregon, 3-for-4, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI
Up next: Oregon at Rockford Lutheran; Streator at Dixon, both 4:30 Monday