Crook County was quick to put in runs on Saturday’s Intermountain Conference baseball opener, but Pendleton wasted no time in responding.
That was at least the case in game one.
The Bucks’ home doubleheader saw them open league action with a 5-2 rally over the visiting Cowboys, but trailed 9-3 in game two until the spring rain ended it after three innings.
Despite Pendleton’s victory in the first game, they racked up five errors against the Cowboys’ two. Ryan Stahl, who spent 5⅔ innings on the mound, struck out 10 but allowed five walks.
“Our defense definitely needs to be cleaned up,” said Bucks coach TJ Haguewood.
“And we were making some mental mistakes on top of that. We need to start making these plays on a varsity level.”
Brody Connell and Hunter Bishop gave the Cowboys a head start with two runs in the top of the first, but Pendleton turned the tables in their first offensive showing.
In the bottom of the first, Stahl singled and drove Gabe Umbarger in to put the Bucks on the board. Justin Duso scored a run off Quinn Doherty’s sacrifice fly, and Austin Fell’s single drove Stahl home two at-bats later.
Doherty hit a two-RBI double in the bottom of the second to set the stage for the victory.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys would go without a run for the remainder of the game.
They loaded the bases at the top of the sixth but Bucks pitcher Chris Large, who relieved Stahl for the final 1⅓ innings, stranded them all.
“We only had five hits in that first game, but the guys came through when they needed to,” Haguewood said.
Umbarger went 2 for 4 with two runs, and while Stahl only posted one hit out of four appearances, he put in a run and an RBI to aid in the win.
“We jumped on (Crook County’s) fast balls,” Umbarger said. “Our offense was strong in the first game, but we needed to limit our errors.”
Pendleton’s second contest against the Cowboys will resume on Tuesday, April 30.
Bishop, Garrett Bernard, and Kyle Knoutson gave the Cowboys an early 3-0 lead at the top of the first, and they would send 10 batters to the plate in the third, giving them a 9-3 advantage.
“We weren’t prepared,” Umbarger said.
“We got ourselves deep into counts, which started putting us behind. (Crook County’s) off-speed pitches really caused us some trouble.”
Before Pendleton (4-5, 1-0 IMC) has a change to settle things with the Cowboys, they’ll travel to Hood River Valley on Tuesday for another conference matchup.
“Our throwing and our defense were inconsistent today,” Coach Haguewood said.
“But the good thing is, we’ll work on cleaning things up before we’re right back at it on Tuesday.”
Pendleton brought the bats to ensure swift back-to-back victories in Saturday’s Intermountain Conference debut.
The Bucks knocked down 14-2 and 19-9 wins over their Crook County hosts to go 2-0 in league action.
“It was a slow start, but once we got the bats going, it seemed like we could do no wrong at the plate,” said coach Tim Cary.
Crook County’s Berkley Puckett and Kalyn Martinez helped the Cowboys out to an early 2-0 lead at the bottom of the second inning, but Pendleton slowly chipped away at the deficit until an eight-run sixth inning sealed the deal in their favor.
Kirah McGlothan was 3 for 5 at bat with two runs and an RBI, and Maria Lillienthal and Carissa Cooley both hit 3 for 4 with two runs.
Martinez, who put in 5⅔ innings of work, dropped the game for the Cowboys, surrendering 14 runs across 19 hits, and collecting 11 errors in the first game alone.
“Crook County is decent, but we’re going to see stronger pitching coming up in the league, and we need to be prepared for that,” Cary said. “(Crook County’s) pitching was not overpowering by any means, but we started having a tough time at the plate. We had to make some adjustments.”
Kila Soloman finished game one batting 4 for 5 and driving in two runs, but didn’t score any of her own. That would change dramatically in game two.
By the bottom of the second, the Bucks had shot out to a 14-4 advantage, propelled by Soloman’s grand slam at the top of the inning. She finished the day with a perfect performance at the plate, batting 4 for 4 with one run and six RBIs.
“She really busted it open,” Cary said of Soloman. “She chose good pitches to swing at. She was relaxed and patient. It was just her day. Every time she got up there, she had a great approach. It was really nice to see her have a great deal of success today. She’s been putting in hard work all season.”
Kylie Parsons gave up seven runs off five hits across four innings on the mound, but struck out eight to keep the Cowboys under control. Martinez let the Bucks score 14 runs off of nine hits in four innings.
Pendleton (9-3, 2-0 IMC) hosts Hood River Valley for another league game on Tuesday. First pitch is at 4:30 p.m. at Sunridge Middle School.