HERMISTON — After the first game of Hermiston’s Columbia River Conference opener, defense was something the Bulldogs needed to clean up.
They dropped Game 1 5-2 to the visiting Hood River Valley Eagles by their own accord, and were looking at a sweep after a late rally put Hood River up again in Game 2.
After taking an early lead with one run in the first, the Eagles answered with five runs in the fourth and fifth innings to go up 5-2. But another four-run rally, this time by the Bulldogs, put Hermiston up 6-5 to split the doubleheader.
In the bottom of the sixth, trailing by three, Hermiston (5-9 overall, 1-1 CRC) needed to get its bats going.
The Bulldogs recorded only four hits in the first game, and by the fourth inning of the second outing, had matched that output highlighted by RBI singles from Wyatt Noland in the first and Lukas Tolan in the fourth.
Hermiston’s fire power came just in time, as Jordan Ramirez took the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. Two previous walks with the bases already loaded put the Bulldogs within one run of knotting the score.
Up against Hood River’s (7-8, 1-1) ace, Connor Coeper, on a 2-2 count, Ramirez sent a ground ball to short stop that scored both Tolan and Andrew James to put the Bulldogs up for good.
Ramirez then made an appearance on the mound to close out the game, allowing just one hit and walking one.
“Well shoot,” Ramirez began after Game 2, “that (RBI) would have never happened if Andrew (James) wasn’t smart on the bases.”
And as far as toeing the rubber, “I just came in and was like, ‘My defense is good, just throw strikes and they’ll get a play.’ Look what happened: Garron (Anderson) double play, game,” he added.
After the leadoff hitter singled to left field and a walk was issued to move runners to first and second base, Ramirez needed something to quickly get out of the inning. He had already thrown three strikes, but was going up against the middle of Hood River’s lineup which had been pretty successful at the plate.
But just as Ramirez said, a 5-3 double play to third base sealed the deal and gives the Bulldogs the momentum going into another doubleheader against the Eagles on Tuesday.
“I’m extremely proud of how our kids came back in the second game,” head coach Kevin Moore said. “All of a sudden we came back and fought back in the bottom of the sixth and put up four ourselves to come out on the top side of this win.”
Offensively, Caden Schwirse had the best day and went 2-for-2 while scoring twice in Hermiston’s win. Schwirse pitched five innings in the first game, and was handed the loss after giving up nine runs on four hits, striking out three and walking two.
James had one of the few highlights in Game 1, hitting an double which put him in position to be the first Bulldog to score. A grounder by Joel Mendez allowed James to round third and tag home, and one batter later Mendez was brought in by an RBI single off the bat of Ramirez.
R H E
HRV 011 021 0 — 5 11 3
HHS 000 020 0 — 2 4 1
(HR) G. Losee. (H) C. Schwirse, G. Anderson (6). W — Losee, L — Schwirse.
2B: R. Gram (HR); A. James (H).
R H E
HRV 000 140 0 — 5 9 1
HHS 100 104 X — 6 6 1
(HR) C. Coeper. (H) L. Tolan, B. Dufloth (6), J. Ramirez (7). W — Dufloth, L — Coeper.
HR: H. Howell (HR).
Contact Alexis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-564-4542. Follow her on Twitter @almansanarez.