Two teams hoping to end slumps met in a Columbia River Conference baseball game Friday afternoon, and it was the Hood River Valley High Eagles who snapped a four-game losing streak with a 12-3 home win over the Pendleton Buckaroos.
The Eagles (4-6 CRC, 11-12 overall) overcame a 3-0 deficit with a fourth-inning offensive explosion featuring five hits and eight runs in 12 batters going to the plate to create an 8-3 lead.
“I’m proud of the guys for bouncing back and getting a much-needed win,” said Coach Erich Harjo. “They (Pendleton) lacked a little bit defensively in the fourth, so we took advantage of it and put eight runs up on the scoreboard. It’s good to see us score 12 runs, because that indicates that we’re a pretty good offensive team.”
Following three scoreless frames, Pendleton (2-8 CRC, 10-13) took a 3-0 advantage in the top of the fourth. HRV responded with the fourth-inning rally highlighted by Kyle Beam’s (2-for-4) three-run double and Kam Walker’s (1-for-4) two RBI single.
“This is a big win, especially for this time of the year as we get ready for the playoffs,” said Beam, the Eagles standout senior catcher who leads HRV in hits (37), RBIs (31) and runs scored (32). “We got some key hits when we needed to, which really sparked the offense and we just kept it rolling for the remainder of the game. We have to start getting ready and hopefully we can establish some momentum for a strong postseason run.”
The Eagles are ranked 12th in the OSAA Class 5A level and they’ll earn a home game in the 16-team play-in round May 17 if they maintain a 16th or higher ranking at the conclusion of the regular season May 10.
After a scoreless fifth, HRV extended its lead with a four-run sixth. Senior Nick Weekly (1-for-3, two RBI) and Alix Jimenez (2-for-4, RBI) sparked the offense to help the Eagles build the 12-3 advantage.
“We just ask the guys to play with attitude, effort and hustle and when they do that, I can’t complain,” Harjo said. “We have a good group here and they’ve work hard all season. It was tough losing three straight to The Dalles Wahtonka. We didn’t get blown out in any of those games and the guys fought hard all the way to end in each contest.”
Sophomore pitcher Ryan Ward, who leads HRV with a 2.18 earned run average, started on the mound and pitched six innings, allowing seven hits with three strikeouts and four walks. Surprisingly, it was Beam who relieved Ward in the seventh and he pitched to three Buckaroos, who were put out one, two, three by the HRV defense. It was the first time that Beam had pitched since he was age 12 and playing Little League Baseball.
“Prior to the game, our coaches (Harjo, Rich Carter, Mark Beam, Don Lariza, Jake Williams) said I was probably going to pitch today and that they just wanted me to throw it across the middle of the plate,” said Beam. “It felt good and I liked going out there on the mound. It was helpful having a nine-run lead too.”
The Eagles played their final CRC road game Tuesday at Hermiston (6-4 CRC, 13-6), with results unavailable at press time. The regular season finale is Friday at home at 4:30 p.m. against No. 4 ranked TDW (8-2 CRC, 17-6).