MILTON-FREEWATER - With pitching ace Ranzy York out with back problems, Mac-Hi turned to freshman Amber Knight to wrap up its final two games of the preseason.
Knight delivered for the Pioneers, throwing all 13 innings of a Tuesday doubleheader, helping Class 3A Mac-Hi to 10-0 (six innings) and 9-5 victories over 2A Pilot Rock.
The No. 9-ranked Pioneers are now 5-0.
"It was a great performance for a freshman," Mac-Hi coach Barry Weis said. "She did a really, really good job against a tough Pilot Rock team."
Knight threw a five-hit shutout in the first game, striking out eight and walking two. She gave up five runs - four earned - in the second game on eight hits. Knight also struck out five and walked two.
Despite all those innings, Knight said her arm felt fine after the games. She managed to finish strong, retiring the final eight batters she faced and ending her day with a strikeout.
"I think it's because of the timing," Knight said of why the Rockets were able to hit her better in the second game. "They got ahold of it."
Pilot Rock sent two pitchers to the mound Tuesday, starting Andrea Pedro in the opener. Pedro gave up eight earned runs on 10 hits.
Caren McLaren started for the Rockets in the second game, surrendering eight runs, six of which were earned.
"I think both my pitchers threw well enough to win ball games," Pilot Rock coach Rick Hoisington said. "Again, you can't give a team five or six outs and expect to beat them."
Mac-Hi dominated the first game, scoring eight runs over the first two innings. Pilot Rock, however, scored right away in the second game and led 3-0 after two and a half innings, and 5-4 after the top of the fifth inning.
"We started losing it in the second game," Knight said. "We started getting tired in that game."
The Pioneers strung together a four-run fifth inning, courtesy of four Pilot Rock errors, to take control of the second game 8-5.
Hoisington, whose team had only one less hit than Mac-Hi in the second game (eight to seven), said errors cost his team the game.
"It's early in the season, and the thing we have to learn is that when you play a good ball club, you can't make defensive mistakes," Hoisington said. "You can't give them an opportunity to have extra at-bats."
Pilot Rock is now 1-2 and will play at La Grande on Thursday.
The Rockets have a promising season ahead of them, according to Weis.
"Pilot Rock really impressed me. They're a good ball club," Weis said. "They're going to do really well in their league."
Mac-Hi will open Greater Oregon League play Saturday against Ontario, and Weis said York will be available to pitch.
"She's not hurt bad," Weis said. "She's a little bit sore in her back, so we just felt like we needed to rest her (Tuesday)."
Weis said his team, now with arguably two starting aces, is ready for the GOL.
"We would have liked to have a few more games under our belts to be really hitting on all eight cylinders," Weis said. "But with the exception of stubbing our toe the first couple innings of the second ball game, we played some really strong innings (Tuesday)."
Notes: Abby Contreras went 4 for 8, reached base six times and drove in three runs for Mac-Hi on the day. ... Every Mac-Hi starter reached base in the first game. ... Pilot Rock's Kirk and Becky Schiller had multiple hits - two each - in the second game. Christina Kinney was the only Rocket player with more than one hit in the first game with two.