PENDLETON - The Class A Pendleton Merchants thought they might have a sweep in store for them coming into a Saturday doubleheader against Caldwell after winning the first of a three-game series Friday night.
That notion was quickly erased when Caldwell, coached by 1995 Pendleton graduate Kevin Moore, jumped out to a 9-4 lead after two innings.
Caldwell pounded out 18 hits in the opener, winning 22-7 in five innings at Bob White Field. The Merchants rebounded in Game 2, though, holding Caldwell to just two hits and winning 14-0 in five.
Isaac Henslee picked up the win in the second game.
"There's not much to say after you lose 22-7," Merchants coach Travis Zander said. "The kids were down, but we told them to treat the game not like you have to be here; treat it like you want to be here."
John Mitchell was a force in the batter's box for the Merchants (17-12), racking up a double, triple and one home run between the two games.
Torin Garza added a pair of doubles in Game 2.
"I thought we were going to have a couple of close games today," Zander said. "It didn't seem like it mattered where the pitchers placed the ball. We couldn't get them out in the first game, and vice versa in the second game."
The three-game, two-day home stand marked a return to the good old days of baseball in more ways than one.
The first was the fact that the Pendleton players housed the visiting Caldwell squad rather than make them get hotel rooms.
"That was common when I was playing," Zander said. "They don't do that as much any more."
The series also gave Zander and Moore a chance to reminisce on the times they had spent together in the Pendleton baseball system.
Zander coached Moore as a 13-year-old in the Babe Ruth system and then coached along side him for Pendleton JV and American Legion ball.
They got the morning started with a little batting practice as players from both teams watched with excitement as Moore, who played minor-league ball in the Frontier League, stepped in to take some swings against his old coach.
"I hadn't thrown batting practice to him since he was 13," Zander said.
Zander was able to keep Moore inside the park from the right side of the plate, but Moore then stepped to the other side and hit the fourth pitch over the scoreboard in right field.
"It's cool to see that he's still got it," Zander said.
Moore said he tries to make it back to Pendleton as much as possible, and he takes as much of it with him back to Boise as he can.
"Being in Pendleton, people used to eat sleep and breathe gold and green so I keep that blood in my system all the time," he said. "I want these Caldwell kids to come see what Pendleton baseball is all about because we have such a good tradition over here."
Moore said he uses his experience playing professional baseball to help him reach his players and hopes it inspires them to follow their dreams.
"You can work your whole life but you can only play athletics for so long," he said. "I've been in their shoes before. I gained all my knowledge from my coaches growing up, I wish could name them all... and it all started here in Pendleton."
Both Zander and Moore said they hope the Calwell/Pendleton match-up is one that flourishes in the future and they already have plans for Zander's team to travel to Boise next year, where they'll be the house guests.
Game 1 R H E
CALDWELL 454 63 - 22 18 1
MERCHANTS 041 20 - 7 8 4
Nick Muncy and Ben Puga; Jake Talbot, Kevin Nooy (2), Jared Standley (4) and Dannon Baker. W - Muncy; L - Talbot.
2B - Graber, Andaloza, White (2), Coller, Hughes, Puga (Caldwell); Eric Crawford, Derek Alderman. 3B - John Mitchell (Pendleton Merchants). HR - Mitchell (Pendleton Merchants)
Game 2 R H E
CALDWELL 000 00 - 0 2 0
MERCHANTS 461 3x - 14 13 0
Jacob McKenney, Casey Coller (3), Adrian McKay (4) and Bryce Hughes; Isaac Henslee and Dannon Baker. W - Henslee; L - McKenney.
2B - Torin Garza (2), John Mitchell, Kyle Martinez, Eric Crawford, Jared Standley (Pendleton Merchants)