Wednesday, April 16, 2014
The Hood River Valley varsity baseball team was hoping to rise to the occasion in a home doubleheader Saturday against one of the best Class 5A teams in the state: the No. 2-ranked Bend Lava Bears. The Eagles (6-7) struggled through both games, however, as the Bears lengthened their winning streak from five to seven with 12-1 and 10-2 blowouts over the Eagles.
Although the underdogs, the result was surprising for Eagles and head coach Eric Harjo, who were hoping gain some important momentum going into the 12-game Columbia River Conference schedule.
“I would’ve never thought that with the caliber of team we have, we would come out and have a performance that appeared to resemble somewhat of a nightmare,” said Harjo. “I really thought we were good enough to at least come out and get a win in the first game with Ryan Ward on the mound, because he’s one of the best pitchers in the state.”
Ward, a 6-foot-3 junior right hander, started on the mound in game 1 and had a strong effort early. The Eagles trailed the Lava Bears 1-0 after two innings before the roof caved in during the third as they committed five costly fielding errors that helped enable the Lava Bears to score eight runs and extend the margin to 9-0 after three.
HRV got a run up on the scoreboard in the fifth to avoid a shutout off. Junior second baseman Kam Walker (2-for-3, two singles, walk, fielder’s choice) drove in Ward (2-for-3, single, double, fielder’s choice), who earlier hit a double. Bend added a run in the sixth and two in the seventh for the final margin.
Bend outhit HRV 10-7, while the Eagles’ total of seven errors was clearly a deciding factor in the loss. Senior Austin Martin (1-for-3, single), junior Willie Ishizaka (1-for-3, single) and sophomore Patrick Harvey (1-for-3, single) also had hits.
“It’s hard to win if you can’t put things together defensively,” Harjo said. “It just wasn’t in the cards for us today.”
HRV took an early lead in Game 2. Sophomore Skyler Hunter (1-for-3, single) and senior Alix Jimenez (2-for-3, two singles) led off the first inning with consecutive singles. Hunter scored on an error when Kellan Duffy reached first on a Lava Bear miscue, giving the Eagles a 1-0 edge. Unfortunately the boys couldn’t produce another hit until a sixth-inning Jimenez single.
Following a scoreless second, Bend knotted it up in the third at 1-1. In the same inning, a sunny day at the ballpark took a turn for the worse when Jiminez hit a line drive that struck Bend sophomore pitcher Kota Carter squarely in the face. Carter received a standing ovation as he was taken away by ambulance for medical care.
Bend responded well to the unfortunate injury and put four runs on the board in the fourth to build a 5-1 advantage. Bend extended it to 10-1 in the fifth. HRV got a run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly RBI by Jimenez for the 10-2 final.
The Eagles allowed a surprising total of 14 free passes to the basepaths in Game 2 as six Bend batters were hit by pitches and eight were walks. As they did in the first contest, Bend’s offense was solid with 10 hits to HRV’s two.
The Eagles move on to face No. 5-ranked Pendleton Buckaroos (7-5) in an April 19 noon doubleheader at home to start CRC action.
“We’re looking forward to playing Pendleton next Saturday,” said Harjo. “It’s a new season, so it’s like a fresh start and we’ll try to put everything together for that game. We’ll have a good week of practice and try to get the guys mentally prepared to play well. We’ll put the preseason behind us now. Obviously, it’s not where we wanted to be with a 6-7 record. I think after having a good week of practice, we’ll be in pretty good shape to come and have a better performance versus Pendleton.”