HERMISTON - The Hermiston 14-year-old Babe Ruth team may have left their state tournament hopes on their home turf at Weber Field Monday morning, but on their way out they gave Pendleton a fight they weren't expecting.
Pendleton won the first round bracket game 7-4 to advance to today's semi-finals at 10 a.m. A win in that game will put the squad in the championship game at 7 p.m.
The first couple innings looked like the young rivals' earlier games against one another, as Pendleton jumped out to a 5-1 lead and seemed to have things under control.
But before the team could start adding on in hopes of reaching the 10-run rule, Hermiston stopped them in their tracks.
"Every time we've played them they've gotten better, come in more prepared," Pendleton coach Rich Lebsock said. "There's been a lot of progress, and that's a lot more fun. We like to see the games even like that."
Hermiston cut the lead to 5-4 in the third inning and kept Pendleton out of rally mode, holding them to just one run in each the fourth and fifth innings.
The hosting team also forced Wyatt Whitten to pitch six innings and took him out of the rotation for today's games because of the innings he used.
"Pitching-wise we're okay," Lebsock affirmed. "I may have overstated when I said we have 12 guys and 12 pitchers, but we have enough to get through (today)."
With the game finishing so close, many Hermiston players were disappointed they weren't able to pull off the upset.
Tyler Andreason, who pitched the last two innings, said he felt he could have done more to help his team out in their final game.
"They jumped out like they usually do, but we came back again," he said. "Some of us feel okay with how we did, but I don't feel that great about my game."
The squad again struggled to bring runners in once they reached base, stranding 11 in the game.
Though the offense failed in the timely hits category, coach Kirby Warner was glad to see the team show up in the field and stay focused through the game.
"Our guys were out here and ready to go," he said. "I'm impressed, because I didn't know how they were going to show up after losing a close game (Sunday) night."
Warner went on to say the team seemed fairly satisfied with the way they finished out the tournament during their post-game chat in right field.
On Pendleton's side, the team knows they'll need a better overall performance to advance to the championship game and beyond today.
"(Hermiston) played a good game, but we didn't come out ready," Lane Byrnes said. "We weren't looking very good, but we stayed calm. But we'll definitely need to get more hits (today)."
If the squad makes it to today's championship game, they'll contend for a spot at the Pacific Northwest Regional Tournament.
"That's our goal," Lebsock said. "We know what we want to do."
R H E
HERMISTON 103 000 0 - 4 7 2
PENDLETON 320 110 X - 7 10 3
Trevor Phillips, Tyler Andreason (5) and Estevan Martinez. Wyatt Whitten, Isaac VanPelt (7) and Jeff Eickstedt. W - Whitten. L - Phillips. S - VanPelt.
2B - Martinez, Booter Lewis (Hermiston); Shaun Simpson, Kolby Haliewicz (Pendleton). 3B - Lane Byrnes (Pendleton).