PENDLETON - The Gilbert Auto Legion team's flare for the dramatic continued Sunday during a pair of games against the Devin's Oil Hermiston Heat. Before breaking out for an 11-7 win in Game 2 of the double-dip, the Gilbert Auto fought back and saw its third walk-off hit in six games this season.
The Chargers' Tanner Livesay delivered the game-winner for the second time, lining a base hit over the head of Hermiston shortstop Larry Posada to plate Johnny Picard in the ninth inning for the 9-8 win.
"We get out to a slow starts, but seem to get it figured out about halfway through the game," Livesay said. "Then we come on strong late. We've come back so many times late this year; it's almost second nature. We're used to being behind."
The Hermiston bats came out white hot against the Chargers in Game 1, pounding out seven hits and six runs in four innings against starter Dillon Wallace.
Jeremy Holden supplied a single, a double, two runs and an RBI from the leadoff spot in the first two innings and the rest of the Heat lineup followed suit. Jacob Almaguer added a double in the fourth to score Tom Bevington, but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple to end the scoring surge.
"We're swinging it better," Hermiston coach Brent Mattson said. "We're trying to take positives out of a 1-7 start and the last couple of days we've really been swinging the bats well."
From the mound, starter Travis Bratton came out firing through five innings for the Heat, but Gilbert Auto finally made its move in the sixth inning scoring three runs. An inning later, the Chargers scored three more to knot the game at 7-7 when Davis Alderman scored on a passed ball.
"These guys are laid back and they don't put added pressure on themselves," Gilbert Auto coach Travis Zander said. "It's like they know, quietly, that they're going to come back. The don't press and they just stay relaxed. I try and stay calm with them; they teach me to stay calm."
Helping keep the Chargers in the game was reliever Kevin Nooy, who pitched five innings, allowing just one earned run and, according to Zander, extended himself beyond what was usually expected of him.
On a day in which most of the Gilbert Auto struggled to throw strikes, allowing nine walks, the performance by Nooy was much needed against the Heat.
"That was huge," Livesay said. "Shutting them down late is what it's all about usually. Keeping us in the game is what helps us come back also."
Game 2 was something of a surprise, Zander said, when the Chargers exploded for six first-inning runs. Chaz Madsen and Picard each ripped two-run doubles off Hermiston starter Brad Morton.
Matson said he was pleased with the way Morton hung around, though, gutting out five innings of work, despite seven earned runs. Mattson added it was a difference in getting Morton to "pitch instead of throw."
"Brad is always a competitive kid, he'll always want the ball and he'll always pitch as deep as we ask him to," Mattson said. "Sometimes you have to explain to him why you're taking him out of the game. He's a horse. We just have to get him to pitch instead of the throw."
The Heat tried to make a comeback of its own in the fourth inning, but a key defensive play by Gilbert Auto snuffed out a rally that plated three runs against starter Brandon James.
An RBI single from Austin Kopacz turned into a double play when Alderman nailed Ryan Ronneburg at the plate from left field and Picard subsequently threw out Kopacz at second base.
From that point on, the momentum switched back over to Gilbert Auto with the Chargers outscoring Hermiston 5-3 to ensure the sweep.
GILBERT AUTO 9, HERMISTON 8, 9 INN
R H E
HERM 310 201 001 - 8 12 6
GA 100 003 302 - 9 11 2
Travis Bratton, Jacob Almaguer (7) and Mitch Boylan. Dillon Wallace, Kevin Nooy (5) and Johnny Picard. W - Nooy; L - Almaguer
2B -Jeremy Holden, Almaguer, Justin Jones (Hermiston); Tanner Livesay, Lathan Alger, Davis Alderman (Gilbert Auto).
GILBERT AUTO 11, HERMISTON 7
R H E
HERM 000 311 2 - 7 10 2
GA 600 212 X - 11 10 2
Brad Morton, Vaughan Hawkins (6) and Justin Jones, Tom Bevington (6). Brandon James, Reese Merriman (5), Lathan Alger (6) and Merriman, Johnny Picard (2). W - James; L - Morton
2B - Hawkins, Travis Bratton, Tate Gabriel, Tyler Schwirse (Hermiston); Lane Richards, Chaz Madsen, Picard (Gilbert Auto) 3B - Lathan Alger (Gilbert Auto).