By BEN REYNOLDS
Special to the News
HERMISTON — It took all of one batter to set the tone for Tuesday’s Intermountain Conference softball game between Hood River Valley and Hermiston.
An error in center field on Chelsey Elliott’s fly ball to start the game was a prelude of what was to come. The Bulldogs’ defense gave up six unearned runs and committed a slew of mental and physical errors on the way to a 9-2 loss.
“We got some good breaks today,” said HRV junior Meghan Flem, who had a basehit and scored two runs. “They didn’t get the breaks today and we did.”
Hermiston (3-10, 1-3 IMC) has allowed 13 unearned runs in its last two games, both losses.
HRV (7-5, 4-0), which struggled through its non-league schedule but has rebounded to win four straight in league play, scored two runs in the first inning off the initial error, and closed the game out with a five-run sixth inning.
Elliott was sharp with her control throughout and allowed just one earned run on three hits. She added a career-high 14 strikeouts to pick up the win.
Candice Castro took the loss, giving up nine runs, three earned, on nine hits.
The Eagles, who did not score a run against the Bulldogs in two games last season, got an RBI single from Rochelle Friend in the first inning to end the 14-inning scoreless drought. Katie Pritchett later pushed across the second run with an RBI bunt.
“I think that really helped Chelsey,” Flem said of the early runs.
Hood River added two more runs in the fourth inning, one on a bases-loaded walk and the other an error to take a 4-0 lead.
Hermiston got one of those runs back in the last half of the inning when Castro scored an unearned run on a ground out by Elisha Ena, who was thrown out at first base by right fielder Kayla Monahan on a sharply hit ball.
Hermiston, which gave up five unearned runs in the first inning of the nightcap with Crook County last Saturday, had another nightmare inning Tuesday in the sixth. Hood River scored five runs with two outs on two Bulldog errors and took a commanding 9-1 lead.
With the bases loaded, Pritchett hit a hard ground ball to shortstop which Courtney Hancock could not come up with to score Elliott, who led off the inning with a double.
Hancock, on the next batter, made a slick diving stop and tossed the ball to second base where it was dropped, allowing another runner to score.
Brianne Rowley and Kara Graves followed with back-to-back RBI singles before a head’s up play by Ena at first base gunned down Rowley at the plate to end the inning.
Jessica Bequette hit an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth to score Hailey Dickmeier, who reached on a passed ball.
“At this point we just need to keep plugging away,” Bulldogs coach Tom Bequette said. “We need to keep learning from our mistakes.”
Ben Reynolds is the sports editor at the Hermiston Herald.