PENDLETON - Blue Mountain came within inches Saturday of opening the 2003 baseball season with a sweep of visiting Clackamas, coming from three runs down in the opener to prevail 8-6, then rallying from three runs in the second game only to fall 4-3.
The Timberwolves fell victim to a game-ending double play in the nightcap, with a close call at first base on the back-half of the twinkilling erasing what would have been the tying run.
Despite the narrow decision that left BMCC coach Brett Bryan falling to the ground in disappointment, the coach was upbeat following the outcome.
"I was very pleased with our pitching today," he said. "Four of the five kids who threw today were freshmen. We consistently worked ahead in the count.
"Our defense gave them four outs in the one big inning in the first game that hurt us but we still wound up getting some clutch hits from Ryan Brisby and Donavon Foss and showing a lot of character when we got down.
"In the second game, the (Ty) Combs kid threw a great game and we didn't make any adjustment with our bats.
"Charley Keller pitched well. C.J. Severin made a couple of mistakes and got the ball up, but overall, I thought he pitched well. We didn't have a hit for five innings but we hung in there and we had a chance to tie or win at the end. It just didn't go our way.
"But I was pleased with what happened today. We had 10 guys who couldn't dress out but once we're at full strength, we'll be a better ballclub."
The injuries forced some lineup changes but the Timberwolves committed only three errors for the day.
Clackamas got on the scoreboard in the first game off starting pitcher George Gibson with a single run in the second behind a hit batter, a stolen base, a passed ball and a groundout.
Blue Mountain responded with two runs in the third with the help of a pair of Cougar errors as Mark Cotton, who had singled,scored and Jake Giller, who reached on a fielder's choice, also scored. Mike Barrett was out at home on a throw from second baseman Jesse Gaylord.
Clackamas squeezed out another run in the fourth, sparked by a double by Nick Mason and a groundout.
The Cougars broke loose in the fifth for three runs. Jake Carter led off with a single. Jesse Gaylord followed with a double. Singles from Chris Runyon, Mason and To Johnson did the damage.
Blue Mountain rallied with three of its own in the bottom half.
Mike Barrett and Zach Chalk led off with singles. Trevor McKinney then singled and Foss doubled to finish the inning's scoring.
Jim Hendershot, who had come on in relief for the Timberwolves, allowed a single run in the sixth as Jesse Gaylord singled, stole second and scored on a groundout for the visitors.
In the bottom half, Ryan Brisby launched a one-out homer to tie the game at 6. Barrett was hit by a pitch and Chalk reached on an error, with both scoring on a double by Severin.
Hendershot gave up a leadoff walk in the seventh but got a double play from his defense to end the game.
The second game was a pitchers' duel for the first five innings.
Cougar starter Combs fanned 12 over that time, allowing only one runner, that on an infield throwing error.
The Timberwolves' Keller was nicked for five singles but left the game scoreless.
In the sixth, BMCC's Mario Arroyo walked the leadoff batter but got the benefit of what turned out to be a double play after a disputed call on a breakup play at second.
But two walks, two stolen bases, and a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt allowed two runs. After an infield error, Severin came on and was greeted with an infield single for another run.
But catcher Cory Smith tagged out Jesse Gaylord at home on a throw from second baseman Foss to end the inning.
The Timberwolves rallied with two runs as Combs left after a strikeout and a hit batsman. Josh Gaylord came on in relief and Jake Giller singled and Foss hit into a fielder's choice, with John Maynard out at home. Ryan Brisby doubled home both Giller and Foss.
In the eighth, the Timberwolves pushed another run across as Giller drew a walk and Foss doubled him home.
Brad Neffendorf came on in relief and got a pop up and a ground out to leave Foss at second.
Mike Barrett struck out to open the ninth but reached first when the third strike got away from Clackamas catcher Barry Humphrey. With two outs, Brad Baker singled.
With runners at the corners, James Mazowieski hit a grounder to short and the resulting double play, despite the close call at first, ended the rally and the game.
BMCC returns to action against Prairie Baseball Academy of Canada, a team comprised of selected standouts from throughout the country, Saturday for two games beginning at noon.