BAKER — Hodgen Distributing’s first day at the Elkhorn Classic in Baker City was a resounding success.
The Pendleton 17U American Legion baseball team opened play with a 6-2 win over Owyhee Rivercats before ending things with a 12-1 blowout against Hermiston.
“The kids stayed positive and had a good time,” coach Travis Zander said. “We didn’t hit particularly well, but when we did, it mattered. Our defense was solid, and our pitchers threw great games.”
Tucker Zander started the game on the hill and got eight strikeouts over six innings, only allowing two runs on three hits and two walks along the way. Curtis Simons finished the game and notched one more strikeout to keep the Rivercats down.
The Rivercats held a 1-0 lead for two innings before Simons evened it out again. After Simons drew a walk, Colton Henderson singled to left field, allowing Simons to score and put Pendleton on the board.
The Rivercats put up another run in the top of the fourth to pull ahead once more, but Pendleton’s three-run fifth inning ensured that wouldn’t happen again.
Kobe Fell initiated the comeback by scoring on a wild pitch, and Tyler Browning did the same one at-bat later. With two outs on the board, Jordan DeGeer was driven home on Ty Beers’ single to left field.
“Owyhee was tough,” Zander said. “They kept us tight, but we finally got on the board and scored a few runs.”
Simons led Pendleton, going 1-for-1 at the plate with two runs scored.
The following game against Hermiston was just as close for four innings before Pendleton broke it open for good.
The two teams stayed tied at 0-0 until the top of the fourth, when Pendleton drove in four runs.
“It was close for four innings,” coach Zander said, “but we were able to pull away. (Hermiston) just kind of ran out of pitching.”
Hermiston responded with a run in the following inning, but it would be the only time a Bulldog runner would make it home. With Beers on the mound, Ethan Randolph was walked and scored off Angel Barron’s ensuing single to shortstop.
But Pendleton wasn’t finished. Tucker Zander and Kyle Field scored a run each on the same wild pitch in the top of the seventh, and Lance Wolf put up a two-RBI single for a 10-1 advantage. Beers finished things off with another two-RBI single before Field popped out to second base to wrap up the six-run showing.
“We were just on a roll,” coach Zander said.
Tucker Zander, Field, and Fell each put up two runs for Pendleton, while Randolph led Hermiston with a 0-for-2 batting performance that scored their only run.
Kelson Robertson gave up six runs on five hits and seven walks over six innings of work. Jacob Cubbage threw an inning of relief, but let another six runs come in. Hermiston would only nab one strikeout for the entire game.
Meanwhile, Beers fanned 11 Bulldogs and gave up just one run over the first five innings.
“It’s always nice when your starting pitcher can play deep into the game,” coach Zander said of Beers.
The Elkhorn Classic continues today, and Hodgen Distributing has two games on tap. The first will be against their Baker hosts at 1 p.m. with a clash against La Grande to follow at 4 p.m.