First base.

That’s the farthest any Burns Hilander could make it in game one of Friday’s Irrigon-hosted baseball doubleheader.

With Zack Henrichs pitching for the Knights, Burns couldn’t manage a single hit as Irrigon shut them out 10-0. But the Hilanders came back and tied the score twice in game two before Irrigon escaped with an 8-5 Eastern Oregon League victory.

With the two new wins under their belt, the Knights are now No. 1 in the league standings, and have secured a trip to districts.

“The second game is always a little tougher,” said Irrigon coach Randy Henrichs. “We have to learn to play harder than that. But we took advantage of some mistakes (from Burns) and had some great hits.”

Cade Tiller was walked in the top of the first, and it would be the only time a Hilander would make it on base for the game. Henrichs tallied seven strikeouts to keep Burns’ bats silent.

“Zack’s the type of kid who’s always ready to play,” coach Henrichs said. “He hits the field with his best game.”

Damon Sawyer got things started for the Knights in the bottom of the second, when he hit a triple to drive Keith Fleming home. Caleb Adams knocked away an RBI double to put the Knights ahead 2-0.

But it was in the fourth inning that the game was decided. The Knights cycled through 13 batters, and Burns sent three pitchers to the mound, as Irrigon drove in eight total runs.

Lino Covarrubia highlighted the inning with a two-RBI double, and Burns’ pitchers walked five.

After the Hilanders responded with another scoreless inning, the 10-run rule called the game early. Sawyer finished with a perfect 2-for-2 batting performance, and scored two runs.

Mathew Moreno’s two-RBI triple in the top of the first helped Irrigon to a three-run head start to open game two, but Burns wouldn’t go down easy again.

Miller hit an RBI double in the top of the third to knot the score at 3-3. Fleming drove Henrichs home on a single in response, but the Hilanders evened things out yet again in the fourth with Mick Winn’s double.

Moreno, who pitched the opening three innings of the game, scattered four runs on three hits. He also walked five.

“We were expecting them to come back fighting,” Sawyer said of Burns. “We usually lose the second game in these doubleheaders. We come out thinking we’re going to sweep.”

In the bottom of the fourth, Sawyer doubled and Payton Smith hit an inside-the-park homer, putting the Knights out front for good.

“The ball was far enough away that I knew I could make it,” Smith said, “so I just ran for it.”

Sawyer doubled again, this time driving in a runner, to give the Knights some more distance.

“The biggest part was coming out on top,” he said. “I came out of my slump. I’ve been batting 1-for-4 recently.”

Claiming the doubleheader nabbed Irrigon a place in the Eastern Oregon League districts, but for Sawyer the victories held an even greater significance.

“Today is the 16th anniversary of my mother’s death,” he said. “Knowing that she couldn’t be here to see me play motivated me to play my best. I did it for her.”

Sawyer hit 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI, and Moreno went 1-for-4 with a run and two more driven in.

Irrigon (17-3, 9-1 EOL) will take a break from league action and travel to La Grande on Tuesday. They’ll finish the regular season with a pair of home conference games against the No. 2 Vale Vikings on Friday.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.