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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


1. Behind a pitcher, batter and coach recognized by Class 5A coaches as the best at their level, the Pendleton Buckaroos softball team rolled to its first state softball championship in June.

The Bucks, who finished 23-7 and outscored their five postseason opponents 40-3, beat Silverton 6-1 at the Oregon State Softball Complex in Corvallis on June 2. It was the school’s first state title since the boys’ basketball team won one in 1939.


 
 
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


HERMISTON — Hermiston High didn’t have to look far for its next varsity baseball coach. He was already in the dugout at Weber Field this summer.

The Hermiston School District and Athletic Director Mike Kay recommended Doug Taylor, coach of the Hermiston Spuds American Legion baseball team this summer, for its high school coaching vacancy. The 26-year-old is just a vote from the school board away from officially taking on the head coaching title.

 
 
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Daniel Naughton comes home for the winning run. (Photo by AJ Mazzolini)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

ADAMS — Four balls.

Four balls equal one walk. In this case that one walk generated Pendleton's fourth run of the sixth inning. And as Ryan Stahl advanced 60 feet to first, the loaded bases shifted in turn, bringing home David Naughton.

One walk, one final run, one District 3 championship.

Pendleton built a final-inning rally like nothing else its offense had produced earlier in the contest to cap a comeback for a 8-7 victory Thursday, earning the team a spot in the Little League all-star state tournament later this month.


 
 
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Pendleton congratulates Brody Kincade. (Photo by AJ Mazzolini)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

ADAMS — When the La Grande 9/10-year-olds scored, they put up runs in bunches. And unfortunately for the Pendleton Little League all-stars, La Grande scored in every one of its offensive innings Thursday.

La Grande owned the District 3 championship game in Adams, beating Pendleton 14-1 and wrapping up summer baseball for the locals. Besides first-place medals, the La Grande boys also won the opportunity to represent District 3 at the state Little League tournament in Lake Oswego next weekend.

The first game there is scheduled for Friday, July 13.


 
 
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Tyler Newsome hit a game-winning double. (Photo AJ Mazzolini)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

ATHENA — Pendleton Little Leaguer Tyler Newsome turned the gift-giving birthday custom on its head Monday when his team took on Baker in the District 3 all-star tournament in Athena. While normally the birthday boy could expect presents coming his way, Newsome dished out one big gift to his teammates.

Newsome, who turned 11 on Sunday when his team was originally scheduled to face Baker, delivered the game-winning hit as the 9/10-year-old Pendleton boys rallied to a 13-12 victory in seven innings.

Ty Beers led off the extra inning with a sharply hit ball to the shortstop with so much zip that the defender could only knock the projectile down in self defense. After a pair of wild pitches that book-ended a strikeout for the first out of the inning, Newsome stepped into the batter’s box with Beers gazing home from third base.


 
 
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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

ATHENA — After his team took a 27-1 beating against La Grande in the opener of the District 3 Little League All-Star Tournament on Saturday, Ben Silva knew his team wasn’t that kind of doormat. Things would improve, he thought, and luckily there was another game to prove it.

On Monday, Milton-Freewater transformed into the bully, drilling Pilot Rock 16-2 and evening their record at 1-1 in pool play of the 9/10-year-old division of the tournament.

“Everybody was more relaxed and they had already seen what it was all about,” said Silva, the manager. “It made them more confident with the bat and we settled in, hitting like we should be.”


 
 
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Lane Wilhelm covers third base on a steal by Ethan Burns. (Photo by AJ Mazzolini)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

ADAMS — The opening game of the District 3 Little League all-star tournament started well enough for Pilot Rock as the boys came to bat in the top of the first inning. They drew walks, took extra bases on wild pitches and jumped out to a 2-0 lead before Wallowa Valley even had a chance to swing the sticks.

The 11/12-year-olds’ team capitalized on easy mistakes, but when it came their turn to play the field, the miscues were even greater. By the time Pilot Rock regained its focus, the game was half over and the score leaned heavily in favor of Wallowa Valley, 11-4.

Even after a fervent push in the fourth and fifth innings, the hole proved too deep and Pilot Rock fell by a 14-10 final.


 
 
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Caleb Ball slides safely into home. (Photos by AJ Mazzolini)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


PENDLETON — Before his team’s doubleheader with Mt. Spokane on Wednesday, Hodgen Red Bulls coach Travis Zander posted updated statistics for his players in the home dugout. The newest numbers included the four losses and scoring drought that was the Red Bull’s performance at the Vallivue Tournament in Caldwell, Idaho, last weekend.

The stats were a glaring reality that the batters had already known, but reading them, tangibly printed for all to see, was a different kind of motivation.

“They wanted to turn them around,” Zander said. “They buried them. They said, ‘Screw it, we want to see different numbers.’ ”


 
 
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

HERMISTON — After four seasons at the helm of the Hermiston Bulldogs baseball program, head coach Brent Mattson resigned this week, citing family time and tensions with school administration for the decision.

“Obviously spending more time with my wife and my children is a huge reason not to coach, but probably the biggest reason not to coach would be the lack of support,” Mattson said.

“I mean I definitely had support in the community for sure, but there were some key people in the baseball community. And they had pull and they had influence. In the end you’ve got to ask yourself where your priority is at and if it’s worth it.”


 
 
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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

HERMISTON — Devin Oil Heat pitcher Chase Root dazzled the Mt. Angel Trojans for six innings of a Legion baseball game at the Hermiston Heat Father’s Day Tournament on Saturday.

He focused on throwing strikes. He shrugged off any anxiety when pitching with runners on base while holding the Trojans scoreless until the seventh inning. But he left the game feeling a little frustrated.

“My arm still felt pretty good, I felt like I could keep going,” Root said of the final inning. “But it probably was a good call by the coach because I was throwing about 95 (pitches) by that point.”