While both teams are neighbors on the Intermountain Conference standings, Hood River Valley brought the firepower that Pendleton lacked.
On Tuesday, the visiting No. 4 Eagles dropped a five-inning, 19-6 loss on the No. 3 -Bucks’ softball team, marking Hood River’s first conference win, and Pendleton’s first IMC loss.
The Eagles ran in seven at the top of the first inning, from which the Bucks never recovered.
“Looking at both of our records, it should have been a closer game,” said sophomore right fielder Maria Lillienthal. “It was a case of us being in our heads. It’s all mental when it comes to issues like this. You can’t go into a game with an ego — it has to be confidence instead.”
The Eagles wasted no time putting distance between themselves and their hosts, scoring off singles from Makenzie Chambers, Lizzy Weekly and Haylee Baker, and an error at first base. Chambers drove in two. Hood River would send 11 batters to the plate before Lauren Decker grounded out at second base to end the inning.
“We worked ourselves into a nice little hole there,” said Pendleton coach Tim Cary. “We had a couple of errors and miscues that didn’t help.”
The Bucks trailed 7-0 for two innings until Lillienthal stepped up to the plate at the bottom of the third. Aspen Garton had been walked to first, and Carissa Cooley and Sami Spriet both singled to load the bases. With just one out on the board, Lillienthal was poised to get her team back on track.
“Maria’s confidence has been huge for her this season,” Cary said. “We’re excited every time she goes up to the plate — we know something good’s probably going to come of it.”
On the first pitch, Lillienthal sent the ball over the right field fence for a grand slam. The Bucks cut their deficit to just three runs.
“I just wanted a base hit,” she said of her season’s second home run. “I grew up knowing that you don’t aim for the fence — you aim for the ball. It was kind of like a dream come true. My heart was in that ball.”
But the comeback would only last so long. The Eagles answered with seven more runs in the top of the fourth. Chambers got things going with a three-RBI double, and Morgan Baker would hit one of her own with two outs on the board.
Chambers drove in Katy McNerney for her second at-bat of the inning before the Bucks got that elusive third out.
The Eagles ran in five more at the top of the fifth, including two-RBI doubles from Chambers and Haylee Baker.
Freshman Sauren Garton hit a two-RBI double in response, but it would not be enough to overcome their Hood River visitors, and the 10-run rule wrapped the game up after five innings.
Lillienthal and Cooley both hit 2 for 3 with two runs each, but it was Lillienthal’s four RBIs that helped her lead the Bucks. Spriet gave up 14 hits and 14 runs, and struck out two over 3⅔ innings on the mound. Kylie Parsons allowed five more runs during her 1⅓ innings of relief.
“We were anxious at the plate, and gave them (Hood River Valley) some easy plays,” Cary said. “They found the hits, and we didn’t.”
Pendleton (9-4, 2-1 IMC) hosts the bottom-ranked Redmond Panthers for a doubleheader on Saturday. First pitch is at noon.
If you ask coach TJ Haguewood, Tuesday’s IMC game at Hood River Valley was one of those “tough luck” losses.
The Bucks dropped their first conference game of the season to their Eagles hosts, 4-3. Hood River claimed the win with an RBI double in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“It was a good quality game,” Haguewood said.
“It was one of those games where one team would make a good play here, and another there. It was a tough way to lose.”
The Bucks tallied three runs in the top of the third inning, scoring off singles from Ty Beers and Cooper Roberts. The RBIs helped Pendleton knot the score at 3-3.
Beers hit 2 for 3 with an RBI to lead the Bucks’ offense.
Gabe Umbarger, Quinn Doherty, and Tanner Sweek all scored runs to tie the score.
But it was Greyson Losee’s walk-off triple on an 0-1 count that held off the Bucks.
Roberts fanned three Eagles, but surrendered three runs across five hits and six walks during three innings on the hill.
“Our pitchers worked themselves in and out of trouble,” Haguewood said. “Chris (Large) came in and pitched some good relief, but it was just one of those ‘tough-luck loser’ scenarios.”
Pendleton (4-6, 1-1 IMC) travels to Redmond for an IMC doubleheader on Saturday.