STATE BASEBALL: Eagles back for more

<p>Staff photo by E.J. Harris Pendleton's Quinn Cockburn for a two-run RBI triple in the bottom of the fifth inning of the Bucks' 7-5 win against Liberty on Monday in Pendleton.</p>

PENDLETON — The Pendleton Buckaroos will attempt to defeat the Hood River Valley Eagles for the fifth time this season when the two teams meet today at Bob White Field with a trip to the 5A state semifinals on the line.

The No. 6 Bucks (18-9) were able to secure their Columbia River Conference championship in large part due to the 4-0 record they posted against the Eagles, which qualified for the postseason due to its OSAA ranking and not its fourth-place league finish.

But the Bucks know they didn’t earn the season sweep easily, and the Eagles’ confidence will be at a season-high when the first pitch is thrown at 4:30 p.m.

No. 14 Hood River Valley (12-16) is coming off a 5-2 upset at No. 3 Springfield in the first round on Wednesday. To reach that game they defeated Summit 10-0 in the play-in round, and have won three of their last four with the loss coming to No. 7 West Albany by an 8-3 score.

“I looked up all the box scores of our four games with them and they were actually close games through three or four innings,” said Pendleton coach Greg Whitten, whose Bucks outscored the Eagles 30-14 this season. “We’ve managed to come out on top but they could have gone either way and I talked to my boys about that. I made a point about, ‘Yeah you’ve beat them four times but a break here and there and they could have won those games.”

If the Eagles are to get past the Bucks in their fifth try it will be without the arm of first-team CRC pitcher Ryan Ward after he threw a complete game on Wednesday to beat Springfield. He may still impact the game at the plate, though, and hit the only home run for either team during the season series.

Connor Olson and Kam Walker have also started games against the Bucks this season, but weren’t very successful combining to give up 11 runs (five earned) on eight hits and eight walks in 7 2/3 innings of work.

That could lead to a pitching-by-committee approach as relievers Riley Vanhoose, Skyler Hunter and Kellen Duffy have been effective against the Bucks when used sparingly.

Pendleton senior Chad McCoy tossed two of his complete games against the Eagles this season, but is coming off four innings of work on Wednesday in a 7-5 win over Corvallis.

Whitten said he’ll look to start McCoy’s reliever Quinn Cockburn, who threw the final three innings against Corvallis and tossed a complete game to beat HRV 5-2 on April 19.

“Chad threw quite a few more pitches than Quinn did (Wednesday), but (Thursday) at practice they both said they felt pretty good,” Whitten said. “I think we’re going to start Quinn on the mound and see what happens and have Chad sitting back.”

Taylor Hillmick has led Pendleton at the plate against the Eagles, going 5 for 12 in the series with two RBI. Alex O’Rourke (4 for 14, 2 RBI) and Kyler Lunney (4 for 8, 2 RBI) also have swung steady bats against HRV.

TJ Hancock led Pendleton against Corvallis, going 2 for 2 with two RBI.

Whitten said he’s not going to be trying anything out of the ordinary against the Eagles.

“They’re familiar with us and we’re familiar with them, which is what I kind of think is unique for this about a playoff game,” he said. “We’re not going to do anything to surprise them and they’re not going to do anything to surprise us. The team that plays the best will win.”

The winner will play the winner of No. 2 Crescent Valley and No. 7 West Albany in the semifinals on June 3.

Class 2A/1A

Weston-McEwen (No. 5, 20-5) at Umpqua Valley Christian (No. 4, 21-7) — At Roseburg, the last two consecutive state runner-ups will meet in the quarterfinals today when the Monarchs host the TigerScots at 3 p.m. at Legion Field.

The Monarchs, which lost to Grant Union 2-0 in last season’s state championship, defeated No. 13 Gaston 9-3 in Wednesday’s first round. They are riding a nine-game winning streak and are 11-5 at home this season. The Special District 4 champions are veteran-laden squad with nine seniors and six juniors.

The SD5-champion TigerScots are 10-2 on the road this season, but haven’t had to play on an opponent’s field since beating Pilot Rock 12-0 on May 6. Before today’s game the TigerScots’ longest road trip was for a game at Grant Union on April 5.

Weston-McEwen defeated No. 12 Country Christian 4-2 on Wednesday. They last appeared in the state quarterfinals in 2012, the year they fell to Kennedy 10-4 in the title game.

The winner will move on to play the winner of No. 3 Kennedy and No. 11 Regis in the semifinals on June 3.

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