HERMISTON - The Heat's summer season is over, and after 43 games not much has changed.
Hermiston's Class A American Legion squad wrapped up their summer schedule Friday with a pair of losses to the Columbia Gorge Hustlers 16-10 and 8-1. The sweep ended what some of the players considered a "sub-par" season.
"It didn't go as good as I thought it should have went," said Travis Bratton, who swung between the Class A and AAA teams over the season. "If people had tried a little bit harder and wanted to win a little bit more it would have gone better."
Coach Lance Hawkins, who at the beginning of the season outlined a plan of improvement for the team, said they came short on many of their goals.
"I see some talent on the team, and that's what frustrates me the most," the coach explained. "I don't know if it's maturity or not being willing to buy in, but mostly they need to listen to their coaches a little bit."
Hawkins also spoke about timely hitting and productive plate appearances, which he felt the team struggled with all season.
"A times we've had some good pitching and some good defense, but countless times this summer we were one hit away from that big inning," he added. "But it wasn't a wasted summer to say the least, because every kid got a ton of at-bats and a lot of playing time."
The first four innings Friday's second game saw Hermiston accomplishing some of what they intended to happen over the course of the season, as they kept Columbia Gorge low in score and kept the ball in play.
As a team the Heat struck out just three times against Hustler ace Smith in the four innings and put a run across when Paul Lloyd hit a two-out RBI single to tie the game.
But as the game wore on, the Hustlers picked up the pace and began to find ways to get to Heat starter Bratton.
"They were getting used to the new pitcher," Columbia Gorge coach Nate Shaver said. "They eventually came around and started to score some runs."
"I was starting to get really hot and it got hard to throw strikes," countered Bratton, who gave up just three hits in the first four inning and five in the next three.
Though Hawkins didn't feel the game went as well as he hoped the season finale would, he did say a few things happened that gave him hope.
"Bratton threw a good game, and we made just a couple mistakes," he said. "We didn't strike out, but we put the ball in play without a lot of pop - we had a lot of ground balls."
The Hustlers will finish their regular season with a double header in Pendleton Monday and will host the district tournament in The Dalles the following weekend.
Though Hermiston's season is over and many goals were not met, Hawkins hopes some lessons were learned and the team will come back into next spring ready to play again.
"I suggest we hit the weight room and get away from the game a little bit," he said. "These guys have been out here since February 18 and it's hard to stay in it that long."
R H E
COLUMBIA 010 130 3 - 8 8 3
HERMISTON 010 000 0 - 1 3 3
Travis Bratton and Brad Morton; Smith and Tibbets. W - Smith. L - Bratton.
2B - Giron, Blatz (Columbia Gorge).