LA GRANDE - The Pendleton 11- and 12-year-old Little League team remained as hot as the July weather at the Little League District 6 All-Star Tournament Thursday, rolling past Baker 7-0.
Pendleton is now 4-0 in the tournament and can wrap up the district title with a victory Saturday.
Tony Schachtsick held Baker to a pair of singles and walked just two hitters in going the distance for the victory.
"I guess the story today was Tony," said Pendleton manager Greg Whitten. "He had great command with his pitches. He got into trouble a couple of times but has great confidence and doesn't panic."
Schachtsick got all the run support he would need in the top of the third inning when Levin Fox reached base on a fielder's choice and took second on a wild pitch. Matt Baty hit a grounder to Baker shortstop Bryce Banta, who tried to get Fox at third base, but his throw got away from third baseman Justin O'Neal and Fox scored on the play.
Two batters later, Jon Mitchell got a hold of a pitch and drilled it out of the ballpark to give Pendleton a 3-0 lead.
"Being the visitor you always want to score first," Whitten said. "I would like to have scored in the first inning."
Pendleton extended its lead in the fourth inning when Logan Whitten's two-out single scored Dannon Baker, who walked, and Baty, who had singled.
Baker mounted its most serious threat in the bottom of the fourth inning as Derek Blankenship drew a walk and Chad Adams followed with what was to be Baker's final hit. Chase Richardson followed with a slow hit roller that was thrown to third for the force out, but the throw was high and pulled Baty off the bag to load the bases.
Schachtsick responded by getting a strikeout, a force play at the plate and another strikeout to keep the shutout intact.
Dan Fisher led off the fifth inning with a home run and one out later Gabe Rowe did the same as Pendleton took a 7-0 lead.
Coach Whitten enjoyed seeing four players drive home runs, but still believes his squad is capable of doing more.
"I'm still not completely satisfied with our hitting, but it's getting better," he said. "We had a few more guys get hits today."
Pendleton will play the winner of tonight's Baker/Grant County game at 9 a.m. Saturday and is in a position where Baker or Grant County will have to defeat them twice to win the district title.
Coach Whitten is waiting until game day to make a decision on the team's starting pitcher. Normally, Logan Whitten would be the expected starter, but is bothered by a sore arm. If he is unable to throw, Fisher and Mitchell are likely to each see some time on the hill.
Sports reporter Allen Moody can be reached at 1-800-522-0255 (ext. 1-248) or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.