The Hood River Valley Eagles baseball team concluded its Columbia River Conference schedule with a momentum building 11-7 win over The Dalles Friday at Quinton Street Ballpark.
Eagle junior starting pitcher Ryan Ward (three-hits allowed, four walks, six strikeouts) had an impressive performance as he helped HRV build a 9-1 lead while pitching the first four innings. The Eagles, guided by coach Eric Harjo, then withstood a TDW (4-8 CRC, 15-10 overall) rally that trimmed the margin to 10-7.
HRV (4-8, 10-15) added a run in the seventh for the final margin.
“The Dalles is a good ball club that competes well every year,” said Harjo. “In a rivalry series like this, guys tend to play with more emotion and with a little higher intensity level, so that makes these games even more fun. It was nice seeing Ryan having such a good game. Our relief pitchers (Kellan Duffy, Patrick Harvey, Skyler Hunter) did a good job in helping us come out here and getting a win.”
TDW, ranked 13th in the OSAA Class 5A level, jumped ahead 1-0 in the first inning. HRV (ranked 19th) responded with one run to knot it 1-1 in the second inning.
In the third, the Eagles scored seven runs as Duffy (2-for-5), Ward (2-for-4, double), Harvey (1-for-4) and Conner Curtis each contributed RBI singles in the offensive outburst that propelled HRV in front 8-1. Ward drew a leadoff walk in the fourth, stole second and advanced to third on Harvey’s fielder’s choice groundout at first. Ward later scored on a wild pitch to extend the lead to 9-1 after four and HRV built a 10-1 advantage in the fifth.
“I’m glad that we were able to win three out of four against The Dalles and it’s always nice to beat your arch rivals in a series,” said Ward. “After scoring 11 runs, a win like this provides us with lots of momentum as we head into the playoffs. The most important things a team can have during the playoffs is good hitting and some strong pitching and that’s exactly what we have right now. We’re looking forward to the playoffs and we feel like we’ll have a good chance to go a long way.”
TDW came back and scored six unanswered runs in the bottom of the fifth and sixth frames, making it 10-7. After scoring a run aided by a TDW error to go up 11-7, the Eagles defense was solid in the seventh as they thwarted TDW’s comeback effort.
Hunter had an impressive performance to close out the final frame on the mound; he allowed just one hit and combined with the stellar defensive play of first baseman, Curtis, who recorded the final three putouts of the game on infield grounders to help preserve the victory.
The game turned out to be a slugfest as both squad totaled 11 hits. Eagle senior center fielder Alix Jimenez led the Eagle offense as he batted 2-for-4, with two singles and two RBI. It marked HRV’s first win in The Dalles since 2012.
“This is always a tough place to play at with the wind and bright sunshine, so it’s absolutely a big win for us,” said Jimenez, one of just three seniors along with Austin Martin and Connor Olson (out for season with injury). “Our goal is to reach the state playoffs. I think if we just come out ready to play with a positive mindset then I believe we can accomplish that goal.”
The win snapped a three-game Eagle losing streak and helped provide them with some important postseason momentum. HRV played one final nonleague road game Tuesday at West Albany (results unavailable as of press time).
“I think things are really starting to go in the right direction for us and everyone has a real positive attitude,” said Harjo. “We’ve had good solid practices and we’re having lots of fun, which is a real good thing at this point of the season.”
The Eagles have qualified for an OSAA/U.S. Bank/Les Schwab Tires state play-in contest May 23 on the road versus the 14th ranked Summit Storm (14-9) in Bend. The Eagles defeated Summit 2-1 earlier this season in a nonleague matchup. Whichever team wins that game will advance to play in a first-round state playoff game May 28 against an undetermined opponent.