March 17, 2022 -- On April 2, 1956, Siuslaw Viking baseball opened the season when the team traveled to Bandon for what was expected to be just a normal non-league high school baseball game.
When the team headed home many hours later, they had participated in one of the most amazing games in Siuslaw sports history. Little did the fans in attendance realize at the time, but they had also seen one Viking player put on one of the greatest displays of pitching ever seen by a high school athlete, ever, anywhere.
Strangely, it seemed besides a few small newspaper stories the day after the game, almost no one noticed how special this game was.
The game started quietly. Viking starting pitcher Jackie Gardiner was pitching well when he lost some control of his pitches in the second inning. He walked two and hit a batter and a run scored on an error. The score was 1-0 Bandon.
The Vikings answered in the third after scoring as the result of two errors by the Tigers. This was the only run Bandon starting pitcher Mike Jesperson would allow.
After the third inning, Gardiner and Jesperson settled into a pitcher’s duel. Both pitchers proceeded to strike out batter after batter at a historic rate. Neither team could make anything happen, offensively, as both pitchers were nearly unhittable.
High school games are scheduled for seven innings but with the score still tied at 1-1, the game went into extra innings … lots of extra innings.
The game went on … and on … and on.
When Gardiner was finally pulled for reliever Jack Stonelake after 14 innings, his stat line was one of the most amazing ever seen: 14 innings pitched, 3 hits allowed, 6 walks, one run and what is still, to this day, the Oregon High School record, a remarkable 24 strikeouts.
Though not the result the Viks had hoped for, the game was finally resolved in the 16th inning when Bandon centerfielder Rod Martindale doubled and moved to third on a Siuslaw throwing error. Bandon catcher Jack Yager, probably quite sore after catching 16 innings, was able to make contact and drive in the winning run. He mercifully ended this marathon of a game 2-1.
The winning pitcher, Bandon’s Jesperson, also had an amazing performance; 16 innings pitched, 6 hits allowed, 6 walks, 1 unearned run and 19 strikeouts. Like Gardiner, he also pitched one of the most amazing games by a high school baseball player in Oregon, ever.
According to the website ORHSsportsrecords.com, that 16-inning game ties a 2012 game between Canby and Lake Oswego as the longest game in Oregon high school baseball history.
The Bandon-Siuslaw game that included two of the greatest pitching performances ever seen in the state was given just a little bit of space in a couple papers on the Oregon Coast the next day. Soon, the game faded into obscurity, never given the recognition it deserved as the one of the most amazing in Oregon sports history.
Viking pitcher Gardiner did receive some much deserved recognition many years later when, in 2014, he was inducted into the Siuslaw Athletics Hall of Fame.