This year’s Columbia River Conference baseball title was on the line in Pendleton on Tuesday, March 8 between HRV and Pendleton.
HRV went into the game at second place in the conference and one game behind Pendleton for first place. The Buckaroos led the season series 2-1 before the fourth and final game between the two schools Tuesday.
The Eagles made a strong push in its last chance at the conference title, scoring three runs in the seventh inning to cut the Pendleton lead to one, but were unable to pull off the late-game rally, falling to Pendleton by a final score of 4-3.
Despite the loss, HRV still holds on to second place in the conference with a 7-4 conference record and 13-11 overall record.
On the mound for HRV was senior Connor Coerper.
Pendleton had found early success versus Coerper, scoring one run in both the first and second innings.
Coerper held the Buckaroos scoreless in the two innings that followed, but the bats for HRV were unable to get anything going and heading into the fifth inning HRV was down 2-0.
HRV’s Trenton Hough hit a single after a leadoff out in the top of the fifth. However, the struggles on offense continued and the next two Eagle batters would go down swinging.
After holding off the Buckaroos’ bats in the third and fourth innings, Coerper was unable to keep things going his way and in his last inning pitched he allowed two more Pendleton runs, extending the Buckaroos’ lead to 4-0.
Down after the bottom of the fifth, the Eagles had a chance to put up their first run of the game in the top of the sixth.
A leadoff out in the sixth for HRV led to JJ Mears in the following at bat reaching first base off an error by Pendleton’s third baseman.
In the next at bat for HRV, Mears stole second base and then took third after Coerper grounded out for the second out of the inning.
Despite the two outs on the scoreboard, the Eagles knew this was an opportunity to cut the deficit before the final inning of this game as they had a runner 90-feet away from home.
Isaac Beaman and Ryan Gray followed the Coerper ground out with back-to-back walks, loading up the bases and bringing up Caden Leiblein, who is hitting a .280 average on the season.
Heading into this at bat however, Leiblein was 0-2 on the day.
Leiblein built a 2-2 count, but on the fifth pitch of the at bat, Leiblen struck out swinging, leaving the bases loaded in the top of sixth.
In the bottom of the sixth, Hough replaced Coerper on the mound in relief.
Hough gave up a single to Pendleton’s leadoff hitter to open the inning.
He would then follow the leadoff single with three-straight outs to keep the Buckaroos’ lead at 4-0 heading into the final inning of the game.
After holding Pendleton scoreless in the sixth, Hough would open the top of the seventh with a single for HRV — the start of a seventh inning rally.
Michael Hasegawa struck out looking in the following at bat, but back-to-back walks from Brandon Rivera and Greyson Losee loaded the bases for JJ Mears with one out on the scoreboard.
Mears hit an RBI-single to cut the Pendleton lead to 4-1.
With the bases still loaded, Coerper would build up a 3-2 count in the following at bat.
Coerper on the sixth pitch of the at bat was hit by the pitch, advancing in the Eagles’ second run of the inning; Pendleton 4-2.
With one out and the bases loaded, Beaman hit a groundball into a fielder’s choice decision that would drive in HRV’s third run of the inning, but the run came at a cost as the Eagles picked up their second out of the inning with a force out at third base; Pendleton 4-3.
HRV had runners on second and first with two outs and Gray up to bat.
Gray took a ball on the first pitch of the at bat and would then let a wild pitch go by on the second that advanced Coerper to third and Beaman to second.
With the game tying run only 90-feet away, Gray hit a groundball to third base that was poorly fielded and chalked up as an error that allowed Gray to safely make it to first.
Leiblein would get a shot at redemption in the seventh in the same scenario, expect this was a do-or-die situation; a hit would tie this game and an out would end it.
With the bases loaded and two outs, Leiblein saw two strikes go by to open the at bat and then took a ball on the third pitch.
In the fourth pitch of the at bat, Leiblein let it go by and it was called strike three, ending this game and leaving the bases loaded once again for HRV.
Pendleton held off the Eagles by a final score of 4-3 to claim the Columbia River Conference title.
Coerper took the loss for the Eagles. He gave up four runs on five hits while striking out six.
Mears, Coerper and Beaman each racked up an RBI against Pendleton.
Hough led HRV with two hits, while Coerper, Beaman and Mears each had one to make up the Eagles five total hits on the day.
The Eagles close out conference play with a matchup on the road against The Dalles on Friday, May 11 (results unavailable at press time). A win or loss versus The Dalles on Friday will not affect the Eagles second place seeding in conference.
HRV will close out its regular season on Tuesday, May 15 on the road versus Jesuit.
Play-in games for the OSAA 5A state tournament begin on May 18, followed by the first round on May 23.