Thurston tried, but they could hardly keep Kirah McGlothan’s bat silent on Wednesday.
The Bucks second baseman hit a two-RBI double and a three-run dinger mid-game to help bury the visiting Colts for a 12-7 victory in round one of the 5A softball state playoffs.
Before McGlothan brought the firepower, the Bucks were grasping to a 1-0 advantage for two innings.
“It changed our mojo a little bit,” McGlothan said of her home run. “As soon as anyone hits a home run, everyone on the team gets excited.”
The Bucks, ranked fifth in the 5A division, got on the board in the bottom of the second inning when Sam Spriet sent a 3-2 pitch over the center field fence for a solo homer.
After a runless third inning, Spriet doubled and scored again on Carissa Coooley’s sacrifice fly on the next at-bat. McGlothan doubled and reached third on an error, driving in two runs for a 4-0 lead.
“My first couple of at-bats weren’t very good,” McGlothan admitted, “but Sami’s homer got us going.”
Freshman Sauren Garton held strong in the circle, collecting five strikeouts to keep the Colts without a run for the opening four innings.
Thurston couldn’t manage a base hit until the top of the fourth, when Olivia Jegtvig singled. She would steal second and take third on a sacrifice bunt with just one out on the board, but the Bucks knocked down the last two outs to strand her.
“They’re a never-say-die team,” Pendleton coach Tim Cary said of Thurston. “They certainly weren’t going to give up, and they showed that with their bunts. They made it tough for us to get our outs.”
The Colts swiftly put up three runs with Harmony Stevens’ three-run homer in the top of the fifth, narrowing the gap that the Bucks had opened.
Pendleton was quick to remedy the issue — Josie Wilson hit a two-RBI double in the bottom of the inning, and Elli Nirschl drove a runner home on her single during the next at-bat.
With Wilson and Nirschl on base and in scoring position, McGlothan homered over left field on a 1-2 count to round out the seven-run inning.
“That was gigantic,” Cary said. “That opened the game up.”
The Bucks wouldn’t score another run for the remainder of the game, but no matter. They had already put up enough distance to survive four more Colts runs, and punch their ticket to Friday’s state quarterfinals.
McGlothan’s 2-for-4 performance at the plate brought in one run and five RBIs to lead Pendleton’s offense. Spriet went 3-for-4 with three runs and an RBI, and Nirschl hit 2-for-4 with two runs and a pair of runners driven in.
“You can never overlook anyone,” McGlothan said. “You could be playing a No. 20 team who happens to have a really good game, while you have a bad one.”
On Friday, the Bucks will hit the road to West Albany for the 5A quarterfinals.
“We still have some things to clean up, but we’ll be ready to roll on Friday,” Cary said. “We’re going to give ‘em heck.”
When the Bucks were down 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning on Wednesday’s state playoff game, Ty Beers knew it was a live-or-die situation.
The sophomore first baseman had just singled to score Gabe Umbarger and tie with the visiting Wilsonville Wildcats. He then took advantage of three critical Wilsonville errors to clinch a 4-3 victory.
“There was no room to hesitate,” Beers said. “I just had to make the decision and go.”
Pendleton held a 2-0 lead until the top of the fifth, when Wilsonville’s Cole Kleckner singled to right field and drove in two runs to even things out.
Kleckner drove another runner home in the top of the seventh to pull ahead.
“Wilsonville has a quality program,” Pendleton coach TJ Haguewood said. “They do every year. Any team in the playoffs is going to be good. You have to play with your emotions under control in games like this. During the playoffs, emotions are running high.”
After Umbarger scored for the game’s second tie, Beers took second on a wild pitch, and stole third on the following at-bat. He scored on an error at third base to slip past Wilsonville once and for all.
“This was a team win,” Haguewood said. “We had a lot of guys doing great things. We executed beautifully.”
Intermountain Conference Pitcher of the Year Ryan Stahl may have only benched two Wilsonville batters, but scattered just three runs across six innings on the mound.
“Wilsonville is a tough team,” Stahl said. “They know the game really well; we just played better. It was exciting to see kids step up in tough situations like this.”
On Friday, Pendleton will travel to Crescent Valley for a 5A state quarterfinals contest. The Raiders are coming off a 10-2 win over Crook County.