BAKER — Pendleton’s Hodgen Distributing may have swept the first day of Baker’s Elkhorn Classic baseball tournament, but a repeat was out of the question.
On Saturday, the Pendleton-based 17U American legion team held a brief 2-2 tie with their Baker hosts before falling 7-2. The Pendleton team would finish the day with another big blow — a 12-4 defeat to the La Grande Legacy Legends.
“It wasn’t a good day for us,” Hodgen Distributing coach Travis Zander said. “It’s tough to win when you only score six runs in two games.”
Following the two Saturday defeats, Pendleton turned around and took down Owyhee for a third place award to cap off the weekend.
Baker jumped out to an early two-run lead in the bottom of the first inning, but Pendleton was quick to pull even with two runs in the following inning. Tucker Zander singled with a shallow line drive near shortstop, and Logan Weinke was quick to drive him home with a double to right field on the next at-bat. Weinke scored off Ty Beers’ ground ball to tie things up.
With Kyle Field on Pendleton’s mound, Baker put up three runs in the top of bottom of the third to stay ahead for good. Spencer Shirtcliff was walked, and then reached third on Spencer Smith’s ensuing bunt. Baker posted two back-to-back singles, and Warner Robertson was hit by a pitch to drive in the third and final run of the inning.
It was enough to keep Pendleton down for the rest of the game.
Despite allowing seven runs over five innings, Field collected four strikeouts, and only one of those seven runs was earned.
“Our pitchers struggled a little today,” coach Zander said. “There was too much inconsistency with our strike throwing. But I though Kyle threw really well in the first game.”
Pendleton would only get one hit off of Baker.
“That, combined with some untimely defensive mistakes — it doesn’t make it easy to win,” coach Zander said.
La Grande was much quicker in taking charge.
By the bottom of the second, the Legends were up 7-0. Pendleton chipped away at the lead and made it 7-3 after the top of the third. Field, Beers, and Curtis Simons all got RBI singles to help close the gap, but it wouldn’t last long.
The Legends responded with four more runs in the bottom of the fourth, and Pendleton never recovered. They used three pitchers in an effort to contain La Grande, but to no success.
Colton Henderson allowed seven runs — three earned — over the first two innings. Simons threw two innings of relief, but let go of another five runs. La Grande’s Devon Bell went 1-for-3 at the plate, scoring two runs and driving in three more.
But the weekend ended in their favor after Pendleton returned for a 6-2 defeat over the Owyhee Rivercats, who they had previously defeated to open the tourney on Friday.
Tucker Zander hit an RBI double and proceeded to score on a wild pitch to get Pendleton going early on in the bottom of the first inning. From there, Hodgen Distributing didn’t look back.
The Rivercats remained runless for six innings, until they put up two in the top of the seventh, but Pendleton had already collected their six runs to put the game away.
Zander went 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI, and Nic Sheley struck out eight Rivercats to lead Hodgen Distributing to a third-place finish at the Elkhorn Classic.