The Hood River Valley High School varsity baseball team bounced back from a disappointing first-game loss to defeat The Dalles Wahtonka 13-10 in the second game of a a Columbia River Conference doubleheader Saturday.
In the first game — a pitcher’s duel between HRV senior hurler Cody Walker and TDW’s Alex Baldwin that lasted just 75 minutes — TDW edged the Eagles by a single run in the fourth inning for a 1-0 win.
“I did my job and pitched well, so what more can you ask for,” said Walker. “We needed to score some runs, but it didn’t happen and it’s really tough to lose a game like that. He (Baldwin) pitched pretty good and he kept us off-balance the entire game.”
The Eagles had a chance to tie or take the lead at the bottom of the seventh, when junior catcher Kyle Beam ripped a leadoff single to represent the tying run with no outs. The rest of the inning went hitless, however, as HRV struggled against Baldwin on the mound.
“He (Baldwin) did a good job, but he wasn’t any better than any other pitcher that we’ve seen this year,” said Harjo. “We just couldn’t get anything going offensively. They did a good job in the second game with their comeback. They really took advantage of every scoring opportunity that we gave them.”
In game two, the Eagles’ offense was in high gear as they scored early and often in what looked to be a five-inning, 10-run Mercy Rule contest. HRV plated five runs in the first, highlighted by Ryan Colesar’s two-run single, and they added another in the second for a 6-0 advantage.
HRV’s offensive surge continued in the third when they batted around their lineup and saw 12 batters to the plate. Julian Bridgeman, Lucio Alaniz, Alex Jimenez, Kyle Beam and Colesar each hit RBI singles and the Eagles scored twice on bases-loaded walks as they totaled seven runs to build a 13-0 lead.
Following a scoreless fourth, TDW outscored HRV in a wild run of their own, scoring nine runs in the fifth to trim the margin to only four runs. Eagle starting pitcher Ty Bofferding and reliever Gabi Nuño were unable to stop the streak, and sophomore pitcher Alex Jimenez was called to the mound as the third pitcher of the inning.
“That was one of those games where you expect to go out there and just get three quick outs,” said Harjo. “For some reason, our pitchers were unable to find the strike zone. TDW picked it up offensively and had a nice rally; but those type of things happen in baseball.”
TDW got another run in the sixth, making it 13-10, and nearly tied the game in the sixth with loaded bases and the go-ahead run at the plate. The Eagle defense made some key plays and relief pitcher Nick Weekly pitched strong the final two innings to hold on to the win.
“I thought that we had a good chance to end the second game early,” said junior Luke Kopecky. “For a while, it didn’t look too good late in the game. We regained our focus, though, and went out there and played hard to get the win. Alex went out there and did a good job on the mound to help us get out of trouble.”
The Eagles travel to The Dalles Friday for the regular season finale against The Dalles. HRV (3-7 CRC, 10-11 overall) have a 7-4 record in road games.
“We actually play better on the road than we do at home, so I feel confident that we’ll go out there and play pretty well and maybe we’ll win our last two games,” said Kopecky. “We’re trying to reach our peak performance level right now and hopefully establish some momentum as we prepare for the upcoming playoffs.”
HRV, currently ranked fifth in the OSAA Class 5A North Region standings, will likely host a play-in contest either May 18 or 19. The top eight regional teams earn home games in the 32-team play-in round. The 16-team state playoffs begin with first round games May 23.
“It was important to get the split, so I’m pretty happy about that,” said Harjo. “We hope to win this series, but it’s tough to beat any team four games in a row. We feel confident that we can win on Tuesday and we’ll see what happens. I definitely think that winning the second game helps provide us with the momentum that we’ll need to go out there and get another win.”