Rogers High right-hander John Bjerk was determined to defeat Wenatchee on Saturday afternoon.
Nothing was going to stop Rogers’ senior starter from getting the victory, especially not after a second inning, two-out error allowed Wenatchee to grab an early 2-0 lead.
“When I saw the errors, I immediately thought there was a whole another game to be played,” Bjerk said. “It’s not about what happened before, it’s about what happened afterward.”
From the second inning on, Bjerk (five innings, six strikeouts, 66 total pitches) was lights out.
The senior shut down the Panther offense from then on out, allowing Rogers to climb back and win, 5-2, over Wenatchee (1-1) in a Class 4A Big Nine-South Puget Sound League nonleague matchup at Heritage Field.
“He came up big,” Rogers coach Matt Whitehead said of Bjerk. “He never got down — he picked up his guys and never got negative on them. He just stayed positive and our guys responded well.”
The Rams’ offense went to work in the bottom half of the third after Wenatchee starter Keegon Romig began to tire.
Rogers (3-1) chased Romig from the game after he began to bury his off-speed pitches in the third. After striking out the first batter, Chris Chandler and Denning Blake each worked out a walk, putting a runner in scoring position for Troy Johnston.
“Coming into the game, (we thought) they weren’t going to pitch to Troy,” Whitehead said.
After Johnston (2 for 2, two runs) roped a first-pitch double to dead center in the first, Romig decided to just put him on to load the bases with one out.
“Pitchers just make their mistakes, and I capitalized,” Johnston said. “It’s not just me — actually our whole team. When they threw balls over the middle, we just capitalized on it and hit the ball all over the park.”
After Wenatchee coach Jeff Zehnder brought in Brian VanLaar, the lefty couldn’t stop the Rams offense as Jacob Stone hammered a single to left to score Chandler from third and cut the lead to 2-1.
With the bases still full, Bjerk (1-2, 2 RBI, walk) knocked a grounder through the hole of third and short to score Denning and Johnston and give the Rams a 3-2 lead.
Rogers added on two more runs in the fifth on Jorge Lopez’s RBI single and Ricky Condon’s sac fly, pushing the lead to 5-2.
One day after ending Puyallup’s 30-game win streak, Zehnder was not pleased with how his team ended the weekend with a 1-1 split between the two Puyallup schools.
“No excuses as we didn’t come ready to play,” Zehnder said. “We were complacent with the win last night, I believe. We were content with that and we didn’t come out to play this game.”