Tuesday, May 31, 2011/lk
The rattling of the chain-link fence on the JV field became a common appearance.
On any given game day, the odds were the fence was rattling because Nick Weekly had just smacked a ball off it, forcing fielders to scramble to get the ball in.
Every single time Weekly knocked a ball off the fence, varsity coach Erich Harjo could only watch and wait. Harjo had been waiting for the chance to pull up the hard-hitting sophomore, but had to wait for the JV squad to have the numbers to do it.
"We have a lot of young guys that work so hard and dying for the chance to show what they can do," Harjo said.
He finally gave him the call before the Eagles doubleheader at The Dalles last weekend.
On Tuesday the decision to call up both Weekly and Luke Kopecky from the JV team paid off in spades.
Weekly hit his first varsity home run and Kopecky made a pair of spectacular defensive plays in left field to help the Eagles hold off TDW 9-6 and clinch third place in the Columbia River Conference.
The Eagles appeared to blow open a close game in the bottom of the fourth inning with a two-out hit barrage.
Eric McNerney drove in a run with a single, as did Parker Sherrell. Riley VanHoose pinch-ran for Sherrell but didn't need to do much sprinting around the base paths.
Weekly stepped to the plate and hit a towering fly ball to left field that kept carrying and eventually dropped just over the wall.
Weekly, not realizing he hit out, was in a full sprint until he had already rounded second base.
"I felt really good about it," he said of getting his first varsity home run to help give the Eagles a big cushion.
They would need it.
Down five runs, TDW began to rally back, getting a run in the fifth and then two more with no outs in the fifth on a single by Connor Mathisen.
The wheels then started to come off for HRV pitcher Lucio Alaniz, who had pitched well to that point. A single and a walk loaded the bases, leading Harjo to go to the mound and bring in closer Cody Walker.
"It's just been a season full of adversity," Harjo said. "The Dalles is a team that is always in a ball game."
The first hitter he faced, Andrew Olson, squirted a ball under the glove of HRV second baseman Ryan Combelic to bring in a run and close the gap to a run.
Justin Sugg followed with a sinking line drive into left that Kopecky layed-out for and hauled in. He quickly got to his knees and threw the ball in to prevent a run from scoring.
Walker then got out of the inning with a pop up and strikeout.
"That was a huge series of outs," Harjo said.
"The guys showed up and we got the job done," added Walker.
In the bottom of the inning, Alaniz took advantage of a chance to aid his team at the plate when he crushed a ball of the left-field fence to bring in two badly needed insurance runs for HRV.
"I like hitting against lefties," Alaniz said. "I just waited on a pitch and drove it."
Walker then closed the game out with a little more help from his defense.
Sherrell got the first out with a nice running catch in right field; Combelic knocked down a hard ground ball and got the second and Kopecky made a jumping catch of a hard line drive off the bat of Hunter Woods to end the game.
The Eagles went in Friday's game with only pride on the line, and scheduled a game at South Salem Tuesday for playoff preparation knowing they would not have to play a Round of 36 play-in game.
"We're going for the sweep," Harjo said of the TDW series. "We don't want to have a let-down."
The HRV softball team lost to The Dalles-Wahtonka 6-1 as TDW clinched the CRC league title. Depending on play Friday, the Eagles could finish anywhere from second to fourth.
The Eagles scheduled a game against Mountain View Monday and would host Milwaukie Tuesday at 4:30 p.m if they finish fourth. See hoodrivernews.com Monday for final HRV playoff info.
Horizon Christian baseball lost 11-2 to Sherman County Tuesday, setting up a double header battle for third place in league today against Heppner/Ione.