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HRV baseball now focused on playing spoiler

HOOD RIVER — Just one short week ago, the HRV baseball team was considering playoff possibilities as it entered the season’s final stretch.

But after three straight losses — including one to league bottom-feeder Centennial on Friday (9-7), and another to Sandy on Monday (12-6) — the Eagles have been forced to reevaluate.

“We’re going to focus on having fun the rest of the way,” coach Gerry Flink said. “We would really like to play the spoiler against teams like Central Catholic and Reynolds.”

The Eagles (4-8) have a day off today to think about what went wrong after their brief two-game win streak, which put them at 4-5 and in fifth place in the Mt. Hood Conference.

Flink pointed to one area in particular that has hurt the team the past two games.

“The bases on balls have been killing us,” he said of the Eagles’ recent rash of free passes. “People are going to get their hits, but if you don’t give them free bases, they don’t hurt you as bad.”

In the past two games, Eagle pitchers have issued 11 and nine walks, respectively, which has not only hurt them in the score book, but also in their psyche.

On the bright side, the defense has been much improved since the seven-error debacle against David Douglas on April 24.

Infielders Zack Lucas, Jarrod Fogle, Danny Gilkerson, Jon Wall and Heath Goin have showed renewed focus the past two games, both with the glove and with the bat.

Monday’s game with Sandy produced only three errors and saw the Eagle bats get untracked for four runs in the second inning. Fogle, Wall and Gilkerson each knocked in runs to give HRV an early 4-3 lead.

But pitcher Jon Winnett had trouble keeping the Pioneer batters honest and didn’t get out of the fifth inning. Fogle relieved Winnett with one down in the fifth and struck out the next two batters to keep HRV within striking distance at 7-5.

Fogle pitched a strong sixth, but ran into trouble in the seventh, allowing five runs. The defense didn’t help him either, committing two errors to extend the inning.

HRV will look to bounce back Friday at third-place Central Catholic.

After Monday’s final home game, Flink thanked his seven seniors for their commitment to HRV baseball the past four years. Hats off to Zack Lucas, Lorin Herman, Isidro Bello, Danny Gilkerson, Cole Billings, James Maher and Jon Wall for their hard work.

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