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Pendleton Baseball Academy coach Troy Jerome (near) tosses a ground ball to 13-year old Michael Hunter during infield drills at a Babe Ruth baseball practice in Pendleton. (Photo by Steve Humphrey)

By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

PENDLETON — Two facing rows of 13-year olds stretched across the baseball diamond into the outfield, becoming increasingly more crooked with every throw. Their numbers yield more than enough players for two full teams, yet the Pendleton Babe Ruth baseball players practice together.

One team, with one mission.

 
 
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

HERMISTON — The New Zealand wrestlers have hopscotched their way across the United States during the last month with multiple stops in Indiana and Oregon. In that time, the cultural exchange team has picked up enough matches and practice to fill several seasons back on the island.

That’s well and fine — considering their tour is based around freestyle wrestling — but the part of that adventure that stands out most for Jordan Mellars Rose is the food. Not just any food, but the meals served during his stay at the home of Hermiston’s four-time state champion Joey Delgado.

"That Mexican food; it’s pretty cool,” said Rose, breaking down the dishes he ate with his host family. “Eating their food is a little different. You don’t get much Mexican food back home.”

 
 
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Luke Thomas of Creswell gets tossed from his bull. (Photo by AJ Mazzolini)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

HERMISTON — After Callahan Crossley was the only cowgirl to break 18 seconds in the barrel race in rodeo No. 1 on Friday and Saturday, it looked like circumstances would repeat in Rodeo No. 2 on Sunday.

But the third to last rider of the event, Terrebonne’s Stevie Rae Willis bumped the Hermiston girl down to second place. Still, her times of 17.979 and 17.992 seconds gave her the lowest aggregate time of the weekend at the Intermountain High School Rodeo at Farm-City Arena, crowning her the overall champion.

Along with the title, the Hermiston senior was also awarded a halter, an honorary prize in memory of Janice Davis, Crossley’s aunt.


 
 
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By AJ Mazzolini
East Oregonian


HERMISTON — Intermountain Rodeo Team members won four of the 12 events in the
first of their home high school rodeos during a doubleheader weekend, but none more impressively than Garrett Robinson’s tie down roping time.

The Heppner cowboy slayed the competition with a 9.32-second tie to win by nearly a three-second margin. His time came during the slack portion of the rodeo on Saturday morning — right between the first performance on Friday night and the second performance Saturday afternoon at the Umatilla County Fairgrounds.


 
 
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

HERMISTON — It’s not even May yet but the high school rodeo season is ready to blast out of the chutes in Hermiston this weekend.

The Intermountain Rodeo Team will host a doubleheader rodeo at the Umatilla County Fairgrounds beginning today and running through Sunday evening. More than 150 competitors from around the state will descend on Hermiston, representing myriad high school programs. The rodeo starts at 10 a.m. today with the boys and girls cow cutting before the first full performance gets under way at 6 p.m.

The Intermountain Rodeo Team — a collective of 27 students from across Umatilla County and parts of Morrow County — boasts representatives from Hermiston, Pendleton, Weston-McEwen, Stanfield, Pilot Rock and Heppner.

 
 
By AJ Mazzolini
East Oregonian

HERMISTON — The last time most of us saw them, they were grappling for state championships in February. But when a collage of Eastern Oregon’s best prep wrestlers get together in Hermiston this weekend, the matches will have a more international feel.

Hermiston High is playing host to the final stop of a cultural exchange wrestling tour through Oregon, with representatives from Hermiston, Pendleton, Riverside and Mac-Hi squaring off with a team of New Zealand all-stars. Matches for the roughly 20 local competitors will begin in Hermiston’s purple gym in a dual-meet style event beginning at 5 p.m. on Sunday.

 
 
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Hermiston's Emily Stocker (back) and Sarah Hawman. (Photo by EJ Harris)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

HERMISTON — Though a likely state doubles contender was mounting a comeback two courts away, the tennis match of the day at Hermiston High on Wednesday played out between the Pendleton and Hermiston No. 1 singles girls.

The Buckaroos’ Jessica Clark and the Bulldogs’ Zoey Garcia took their match to the limit for the second time in two meetings this year before Garcia could fend off the visitor. Garica won 5-7, 7-6 (7-3), 10-8 in a pair of tiebreakers.


 
 
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Pendleton’s Rayne Spencer hit a game-winning double. (Photo by EJ Harris)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

PENDLETON — With two of the top pitchers in the Columbia River Conference facing off in Pendleton on Tuesday, a scoreless game looked ready to stretch well beyond the seventh inning. Both Kristen Crawford of the Buckaroos and Ann-Marie Guischer of The Dalles Wahtonka Eagle Indians were in prime rally-squashing form.

But from within the pitchers’ battle, the Bucks doubled their hitting output in the bottom of the sixth inning with a pair of stinging doubles, pushing across the one and only run of a 1-0 Pendleton victory.

Darian Lindsey led off the inning with a rope to right field, holing up at second base though her speed could have challenged for three. Two batters later, Rayne Spencer squared up a full-count pitch, driving the ball to the fence in left center field for the one-out RBI.


 
 
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Treasure Valley's Evan Miller rides a bronco. (Photo by Joe Tierney)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

MILTON-FREEWATER — The first and only cowboy at the University of Idaho college rodeo to outlast his foe the bull on Saturday came in the final ride of the afternoon. Pendleton native Bryan Carter concluded competition at the Pioneer Posse rodeo grounds in Milton-Freewater with a score of 72.

That number didn’t matter much, he said. All he really had to do was hold on to win.

"I knew the buzzer was almost there so I had to just tough it out. And I ended up getting trampled,” said Carter, a sophomore for Blue Mountain Community College who will have some hoove-shaped bruises on his lower legs today.


 
 
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Devin Bailey slides into home. (Photo by AJ Mazzolini)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

STANFIELD — At the Devin Bailey baseball magic show in Stanfield on Friday, Bailey did his best to make his pitches disappear. Mere feet — sometimes just inches — in front of the plate, the balls would break their normal trajectory. They dropped instantly as if jerked through a hidden trapdoor.

The trick left the Sherman County batters shackled, frozen with the bats on their shoulders, unable to create a Houdini-like escape.
Bailey the Magnificent led the Tigers to an 8-1 victory in the first game of a Special District 6 doubleheader Friday by striking out 12 batters. Nine of those went down without a fight to Bailey’s colossal curveball.