HRV BASEBALL: Facing the second top-five-ranked team in a week, the Hood River Valley Eagles baseball team was on the verge of snapping a four-game losing streak in a Class 5A doubleheader matchup against the highly regarded no. 3-ranked Pendleton Buckaroos. A late game lead evaporated, though, as Pendleton scored four unanswered runs in the sixth to pull out a 5-2 win over the Eagles in their Columbia River Conference opener Saturday at HRV’s Traner Field.
The Eagles (0-2 CRC, 6-9 overall) then dropped the second game of the doubleheader 6-0 while the Bucks (2-0, 10-5) got the sweep. HRV, guided by coach Eric Harjo, tried to rebound when it played a road game Tuesday at Pendleton (results unavailable as of press time).
“It’s not what we planned on doing (losing two games), but we improved from last week,” said Harjo. “We’ll keep trying to focus on the process of hopefully becoming a better team. We’re capable of beating a lot of teams. We’ll just have to get the ball rolling in the right direction. We’ll work hard in practice and hopefully get better results in our next game.”
Game 1 was a pitcher’s duel between HRV junior Ryan Ward (six strikeouts, three walks, five hits allowed) and Buckaroo sophomore Quinn Cockburn (three hits allowed). It was scoreless through the first four innings as both squads played solid defense and both pitchers were settling into a groove on the mound.
Pendleton lit up the scoreboard first with a run in the fifth to take the initial lead. The determined Eagles responded and came back in the bottom of the frame to go on top.
Junior second baseman Kam Walker (1-for-2, single, hit by pitch) ignited a rally with a leadoff single. Junior Conner Curtis reached base on a Buck error to give the Eagles runners in scoring position and Alex Jimenez took advantage of the opportunity by crushing a ball high to right field that bounced off the 293-foot fence for a 2 RBI double, as Walker and Curtis scored to give HRV a 2-1 edge.
“I definitely thought we were going to keep the lead and come out with a win, but it didn’t turn out that way,” said Jimenez, one of the team’s three seniors (along with Connor Olson and Austin Martin). “I didn’t expect us to lose both games, so it was a tough day. I feel confident that we can bounce back and hopefully win our next game. We just have to come out ready to play together as a team.”
Pendleton came back with a four-run, sixth inning rally to build a 5-2 lead. The Eagles never gave up though, and relief pitcher Riley Van Hoose had an impressive performance in one and two third innings. Van Hoose threw just six pitches in the seventh as he induced back-to-back flyouts of the first two Buck batters and then struck out Pendleton’s final batter.
Pendleton’s momentum continued in Game 2 as senior pitcher Chad McCoy threw a one-hitter to help lead the Bucks to the shutout. Pendleton has now equaled their CRC win total from a year ago when the Bucks were 2-10 in league (11-16 overall). The much improved and experienced (six seniors) Bucks are tied atop the standings with Hermiston (2-0, 7-9) and are certainly a top contender for the league title this year.
Olson started on the mound for HRV and had a strong performance with three strikeouts, four walks and just one hit allowed in five innings pitched. Olson provided the only offensive statistical highlight as well as he was the only Eagle batter to get a hit and was 1-for-2 with a single.
HRV’s next game is a noon doubleheader April 26 at Hermiston.
Two of the best Class 5A softball teams in the state met in the Columbia River Conference opener for both teams, when the No. 3-ranked Hood River Valley High Eagles (0-2 CRC, 10-5 overall) met the No. 1-ranked Pendleton Buckaroos (the Eagles were ranked No. 1 before the day). The Bucks (2-0, 11-4) proved they’re deserving of the state’s top 5A ranking as they swept a doubleheader over the Eagles, winning 6-0 and 4-1 Saturday in Hood River.
HRV, led by coach Eric Keller, was unable get into any rhythm offensively or defensively in a disappointing Game 1 shutout. Pendleton senior hurler Hailey Kline was rock solid in the pitching circle, tossing a one-hitter and striking out six. HRV senior Sydney McHale (1-for-2, single, hit by pitch) had the Eagles’ only hit off of Kline — a single in the third. Eagler senior hurler Kayla Byers was tough in the circle with six strikeouts, three walks and five hits allowed.
“Pendleton came out and gave us a 1-2 punch early and we really struggled to respond to their pressure and aggressiveness,” said Keller. “Once we settled down and realized that we could compete well against them, we started playing better.”
In Game 2, the Eagles got off to another rough start, falling behind 4-0 in the first frame. Following two scoreless innings, HRV came alive in the fourth, trimming it to 4-1 on a solo homer by Byers, which was her third home run this season.
HRV had a golden opportunity to reduce the margin in the fifth inning. Senior Erika Enriquez (3-for-4, two singles, double) helped ignite the rally when she smashed a line drive to left field that rolled all the way to the 200-foot fence for a double. McHale then reached base when she was hit by a pitch thrown by Buck sophomore pitcher Kiersten Murphy. Kline then returned to the circle to get the third putout of the inning as the Bucks remained ahead 4-1.
“If I’m doing my best, then I just feel that’s the best way to help our team win,” said Enriquez. “When everyone else plays their best too, then we usually do pretty well, but that just didn’t happen today. We were playing with a high confidence level and we were giving it everything we’ve got. We just have to forget about this setback, work hard in practice and maybe we’ll come out and get a win in our next game.”
HRV’s offense continued to struggle in the sixth, when they had just one baserunner, Jenni Packer, who drew a walk. The Eagles had one final shot in the seventh. Made Vallejo reached on an error and Enriquez then ripped a single with a grounder up the middle. McHale followed and represented the tying run at the plate, but she was unable to get a clutch hit to bring runners home. Kline then induced a popup flyout by Byers, the final Eagle batter, as the contest concluded with a Buckaroo sweep.
Pendleton, guided by coach Tim Cary, outhit HRV 6-5 in game 2 and the Eagles committed four costly errors, while the Bucks had just one.
“Both teams came out here expecting to have a great game and Hood River played very well,” said Cary. “Obviously, we played a little better. We expect to win every game, but we understand that it doesn’t always happen. I’m very excited about the way things turned out for us today. Hood River is great team and they’ll be tough to beat the next time we play them.”
The Eagles faced the Bucks Tuesday in Pendleton (results unavailable as of press time) and will meet the The Dalles-Wahtonka Eagle-Indians (1-1, 7-8) in a noon doubleheader April 26 at The Dalles.