Top performers in 2009 provide a potent lineup

Pendleton's Jake Talbot (left) and Gabe Rowe (right) made up one of the most potent middle infields in the state this year.<br><I>EO file photo

The sure-fire way to a successful season is through strong starting pitching and no one had that more than the Pendleton Buckaroos.

Led by junior Isaac Henslee the Bucks rarely had to worry about a win every third game. Throughout the season, Henslee logged 56 2/3 innings, finishing with a 9-1 record and a miniscule ERA of 0.99 for the season. Despite playing in multiple five-inning games, Henslee also struck out 59 batters and opponents hit just 1.77 against him. For his effort, he was named first team all-state and all-IMC pitcher as well as IMC pitcher of the year.

Joining him on the first team all-state list was senior shortstop Gabe Rowe who led the Bucks in multiple categories including batting average (.462), on-base percentage (.543), RBIs (24) and doubles (11). Also named first team all-IMC, Rowe was just votes shy of being named the IMC player of the year.

Rowe and second baseman Jake Talbot made up one of the most potent tandems in the state with Talbot's emergence at the top of the Pendleton order. Helping to get the Bucks going offensively game in and game out, Talbot collected 33 hits for a .429 batting average with 11 walks. He was also especially potent on the base paths, going a perfect 18 for 18 in stolen bases.

The McLoughlin Pioneers did not have their most successful season this year, but a pair of juniors' bats were stunningly potent in the tough Greater Oregon League, catcher Ryley Croghan and third baseman Nick Watts.

Croghan led all but one hitter in the conference in average at a clip of .429, but was tops in on-base percentage, reaching base almost 60 percent of the time with a OBP of .584. His 23 runs led the team and his 23 RBIs were good for second behind Watts.

The Pioneers' third baseman brought plenty of thunder this past season, leading the GOL in home runs (8), slugging percentage (.932) and finishing second in RBI (30). With those potent power numbers, Watts struck out only eight times.

Seniors dominated the rest of the positions with Hermiston's Tyler Green in the outfield alongside Umatilla's Levi Russell, Steve Williams at utility and Aaron Trukositz at first base.

Williams, of Umatilla, followed up spectacular football and basketball seasons with a baseball season that saw him take on a jack-of-all-trades persona. Playing the infield, catcher and pitcher, he hit .378 with 28 runs scored and an on-base percentage of .521.

Russell and Trukositz were offensive juggernauts for the Vikings, both hitting .500 or better for the season. Russell led the team with an average of .529 with 21 runs and 13 RBIs. Trukositz supplied the pop in the lineup, leading the team with 10 doubles, five home runs and three triples, slugging an eye-popping .919.

In the outfield, Green was a bright spot for the Bulldogs, as was sophomore Vaughan Hawkins. Green led the team with a .359 average and a .469 on- base percentage. He also held the team lead in runs (16) and doubles (4).

Hawkins battled through a significant ankle injury that relegated him to a designated hitter role late in the season, but still hit .328 with 13 RBIs, two doubles and a home run, one of just three on the year for Hermiston.

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