THE DALLES— Hood River Valley was as charged up as ever for Tuesday’s first-place showdown with The Dalles-Wahtonka, scoring three runs in the first inning to set the tone.
But the Eagle-Indians and star pitcher Sarah Clark promptly got those runs back in the bottom half of the inning, knotting the score at 3-3 before going on to defeat HRV, 6-4, at the 16th Street Ballpark.
“This was a typical game between us and The Dalles,” said HRV coach Phil Hukari. “It was intense, emotional and there was a lot at stake. The Dalles is a quality team with a very good offense and defense. They proved why they are likely the team to beat in the IMC this year.”
Clark started off shaky in the first inning, giving up basehits to Meghan Flem and Rochelle Friend, and a walk to Kayla Monahan. That set up sophomore third baseman Brianne Rowley, who delivered the biggest hit of her young varsity career: A three-run triple to right, which gave HRV a 3-0 lead.
Clark single-handedly got one of those runs back in the bottom of the first with her own RBI triple, while Katie Johns and Jayme McBride stroked RBI singles to tie the score at 3-3.
HRV pitcher Chelsey Elliott helped her cause in the top of the second, driving home Katie Flory from first base with yet another triple.
But TDW persevered, and eventually took a 5-4 lead on Lori Johns’ two-run homerun in the fifth inning. Also in the fifth, Clark delivered her second RBI of the game, driving home Ashlie Keimig to give herself some insurance.
“We just couldn’t stop their bats,” Hukari said of the Eagle-Indians’ seven-hit attack. “Every out was a hard out. They drove the ball well, made solid defensive plays and pitched us smart. We hope to have a different outcome when we host them in the last game of the season.”
With both teams at 6-1 in the Intermountain Conference, the league title could likely come down to a May 16 matchup at Westside Field. Redmond is also in the mix at 5-1, but many observers believe the league’s two strongest teams in 2005 reside in the Mid Columbia.
HRV (9-6 overall) has finished second in each of its two years in the IMC, while The Dalles is coming off a second-place state finish at the Class 3A level in 2004.
TDW (14-1 overall) didn’t help its cause last weekend, however, losing to a lackluster Mountain View squad, 2-1.
Despite Tuesday’s loss, the Eagles still played a strong overall game, picking up seven hits and committing just one error. Elliott and Rowley led the offense with two hits apiece, while Flem, Friend and Flory each had one.
Elliott continued pitch well, striking out seven, walking three and allowing five hits.
The Eagles will try to rebound today with a home doubleheader against fifth-place Summit. Game one starts at 2 p.m.