Mathew Moreno is a man of few words, but that’s OK, he let his bat do the talking Tuesday afternoon.
The Irrigon catcher went 4-for-5 with three doubles, three RBIs and three runs scored to help the Knights to a 17-3 3A Special District 5 road win over Umatilla.
“Just lucky hits,” Moreno said. “I just see the ball and hit it. That’s the first time I have had three doubles in a game before.”
Irrigon improved to 4-1 in league play and 12-3 overall. They will play at Nyssa on Friday.
“We got to play everybody today,” Irrigon coach Randy Henrichs said. “They all got a little experience tonight. Mathew had a great game, the best he’s had in a while.”
The Knights, ranked seventh in this week’s 3A baseball poll, wasted no time in asserting their dominance Tuesday, jumping out to a 6-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
The first four batters of the game reached on a single, then Keith Fleming drilled a two-run triple to the left field fence. He would score on the play, but crossed home on a throwing error for a 5-0 lead. Dalton Schneider would later score on an error to make it 6-0 as the Knights sent 10 men to the plate.
Irrigon would add one run in the second and three in the third for a 10-0 lead.
Through three innings, the Vikings had but three hits, four strikeouts and left five men stranded.
“They are fantastic,” Umatilla coach Jon Garrett said of the Knights. “We are really young. Of my 19 players, 13 are freshmen or sophomores. We have had five guys gone for more than a week at the National Robotics Competition in Houston. They have missed five games.”
Being a mid-week game with a doubleheader on Friday, both teams had their pitchers on pitch counts to ensure they would be able to pitch on the weekend.
Lino Covarrubia took over for starter Damon Sawyer in the third inning and struck out two of the three Umatilla batters he faced. He ran into a bit of trouble in the fourth, giving up three runs on two hits, but the damage was minimal.
Irrigon would add three more runs in the top of the fifth for a 17-3 lead, and Caleb Adams came on to close out the game, striking out all three Vikings he faced.
“That’s the first time he has pitched this year,” Henrichs said. “He has that big old lazy curveball.”
Zack Henrichs, who has signed to play at Blue Mountain Community College, went 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs. He threw a perfect game the last time the teams played.
“This team is awesome,” Henrichs said. “We have all grown up playing together. We are more family than teammates.”
Henrichs is scheduled to throw the first game Friday against Nyssa.
“My fastball has been feeling good,” he said. “It feels like everything is locked in.”
Andrew Wilson, Ryan Lorance and Alex Ruiz all drove in runs for the Vikings (1-8, 1-5 SD5), who play at league-leading Vale on Friday.
“These guys have had a great attitude since that (perfect) game,” Garrett said.
“We all got together and said we are going to have fun. Each game they get better and their attitude is great.”