PENDLETON? The Hodgen Red Bulls bats responded to a big early inning from the Hermiston Spuds on Friday at Bob White Field in Pendleton.
But when La Grandes Legacy Legends went huge in Inning 2 of the American Legion Zone 1 Championship, the hosting Red Bulls had no answer.
The Pendleton club came back from down 3-0 against Hermiston in the semifinals and won 7-6, but an 11-0 deficit against La Grande only got worse and the Legends put the Red Bulls away 13-0 in five innings.
I?think we could have (come back)?but I think everybody just kind of got down on themselves after that, said Hodgens Chad McCoy. I?think anyone would if you get down 11-zip. Its hard to keep your mental focus when you get down 11-zip.
La Grande started its second at-bat with a double off the left-field wall by Seth Madsen. He later scored on a ground ball to shortstop that was one of several plays that could have helped Hodgen sway the momentum but instead went in La Grandes favor.
The Legends added four more hits and five more runs after breaking the ice and chased starter Tyler Stewart with just one out.
La Grande didnt ease up on reliever Kevin ORourke and JC Rogers hit a three-RBI?double as his second batter faced. Two more singles provided the final run of the eight-hit inning.
The Legends finished with 11 hits in the game, bringing their tournament total to 28.
Both teams went with starting pitchers that were new to the opposing batters in the title game, but the strategy actually worked for La Grandes Jorden Rogers.
He struck out eight batters while walking fou r and got the Red Bulls to leave bases loaded in the first and second innings.
Jorden being a left-hander, he gets a lot of different calls than other kids do, said Legends coach Brian Chamberlain. So we thought what the heck, throw the lefty.
La Grande will move on to defend its 2011 state title at the State Tournament starting next Wednesday in North Bend. About five players remain from last years championship team.
They did what they had to do to get to where they needed to go,?Chamberlain said. And now everybody over on the west sides thinking, uh oh, theyre back.
Pendleton and Hermiston both saw their seasons end on Friday, but went out with a great game in the semifinals.
The Spuds shelled Red Bulls starter ORourke with a triple by Sean Smith and doubles by Camran Pollick, Heath Baldock, and Thomas Hamblin to go up 3-0 in the first inning.
Hodgen relief pitcher McCoy settled Hermiston down in the second inning, though, and Hodgen started chipping away at the lead in the third.
The game was tied twice at 3-3 and 5-5, which is where it sat headed into the sixth inning.
Back-to-back two-out singles by Taylor Hillmick and Connor Johnson scored Boots Pond and TJ?Hancock to give McCoy a 7-5 edge.
He didnt give up another hit in the game but an infield error allowed Hermistons Smith to score the games final run.
We kept bouncing back and thats all you can ask for. You cant win them all,?said Hermiston coach Doug Taylor.
Despite not finishing where they ultimately would have liked, the Hermiston and Pendleton ball clubs left their summer seasons with a sense of accomplishment.
We saw glimpses of greatness, how great this group can be,?said Taylor, a candidate for the vacant Hermiston High head baseball coach job. At times we played that way and times we didnt. But I?think we did make a lot of strides this summer as far as coming together as a team which is going to be huge going into the high school season.
Its about at-bats and its about winning but first off you want to be friends with all your teammates too,?McCoy said. Everyone is friends on this team and thats what I?love about it and thats what Im going to miss about it.
Contact Matt Entrup at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0838.