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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.”

Root left the contest one out short of a complete game after allowing two runners to reach base, but Austin Monahan mopped up the details to preserve a 8-1 victory for the Heat (2-8), their first of the weekend. The win puts the Hermiston squad into the championship game of the four-team, wood-bat tournament against Hanford on tie breakers.

The Hanford Flames squeezed past Hermiston 5-4 in nine innings Friday. The Tri-Cities boys pummeled the Pendleton-based Pepsi DiamondJaxx 19-4 Saturday to earn the other spot in the 1 p.m. final today.

Root was dominant, coach Brent Mattson said. The incoming freshman at Hermiston High struck out 10 batters and kept Mt. Angel, which is made of pieces of the Kennedy High Class 2A state championship baseball team, completely off balance.

“When I asked him if he was ready to start I think he was a little nervous, but wow, he threw well,” Mattson said of Root’s first Legion start of the summer. “He’s got a bright future if he keeps a good head on his shoulders and keeps working hard, which I believe he will.”

Root was pitching in a 0-0 deadlock for the first five innings. The Heat couldn’t crack the scoreboard until the bottom of that inning, scoring its first run in its previous 14 innings dating back two games.

Dylan Caldwell opened up the floodgates with a double that plated Kyler Mikami, who reached base with a hit by pitch. Michael Gossler would stamp the exclamation mark on the big inning, in which the Heat scored five times, with a two-run double. It was Gossler’s only hit of the game, but he finished with three RBIs.

The Hermiston boys scored another three runs in the sixth.

“The team just rallied after that,” Caldwell said about his double that started the scoring. “Everybody wanted to hit after that. People got excited and thought they could do it too.”

By the time Root went out to pitch the sixth and seventh innings, all of his butterflies had long since lifted, he said.

“I felt pretty relieved after we got those couple of runs,” he said. “I didn’t fell any pressure on the mound after that.”

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Contact AJ Mazzolini at ajmazzolini@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0839.

 


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