By DAVE LEDER
News staff writer
HOOD RIVER — Three more games, three more losses.
On the heels of another trifecta of defeats this week against Pendleton and Summit (two), the Hood River Valley baseball team is nearing crunch time as it looks to avoid the program’s first winless campaign since 2001.
Now at 0-16 overall (0-10 Intermountain Conference), the Eagles are wondering where they went wrong in a season that carried with it an outside shot at the playoffs. But despite the unexpected fall from grace, the players are still giving it their all.
Tuesday’s 6-4 loss to Pendleton is a perfect example of HRV’s misfortune this season. After taking a 4-1 lead in the fourth, the Eagles coughed up two runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh to allow the Bucks to escape with their fourth league win.
“We hit the ball really well that game, and we probably should have gotten them,” coach Jeff Lahti said of his team’s 11-hit performance. “Spencer (Munos) threw a heck of a game, but I probably left him in there one batter too long. Unfortunately, Pendleton took advantage of my coaching error.”
Freshman Shay Huskey continued to be one of HRV’s most consistent hitters, picking up two hits and an RBI in the loss. Munos also knocked in a run, while sophomore Josh Castaneda went 2-3 with an RBI in his first varsity start.
“Castaneda stepped in a played great for us,” said Lahti, who was without starting shortstop Robby Kloster and pitcher Colby Richards this week due to eligibility reasons. “The good news is, our younger guys are really improving every time out.”
The Eagles also played a double-header this week against Summit, but didn’t have as much success, falling 13-1 and 7-0. Sophomore Jordan Peldyak pitched a good game for five innings, allowing just two unearned runs. But the wheels came off in the sixth, as the Storm put up seven runs to break the game open.
HRV tallied seven basehits, but committed three errors. Meanwhile, Summit racked up 16 hits, compared to just one error in game one.
Game two saw another solid pitching outing by a young HRV star. Freshman JV call-up Ryan Nelson went the distance in his first varsity start, giving up seven runs on eight hits. The Eagles’ defense again committed three errors, but Nelson kept the Storm in check by not allowing more than two runs in any inning.
However, the HRV bats weren’t clicking in game two, notching just one basehit off three Summit pitchers.
The Eagles have six league games remaining, including a Friday double-header at Crook County (results not yet available). They will have a chance to rest their arms next week before hosting Redmond for two on May 7.