PENDLETON — Pendleton had a hard time putting Buckaroos on the base paths against Reynolds on Monday, the first game of the Spring Break Classic baseball tournament at Bob White Field. That is, until there were two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
But a late rally that left the bases loaded couldn’t produce enough comeback magic and the Bucks fell to the Raiders 5-2.
The Bucks (5-2) prolonged the action for a few when Boots Pond hit an infield single with two down in the final inning. A hit batsman and an error loaded the bases before Tommy Lane sent a first-pitch single over second base to score a run.
“I think we just finally decided to pick up our energy in the seventh inning, but a lot of times when you do that, it’s too late,” Richards said. “I think we should have picked it up a little sooner because that was a guy that we could hit. We were just dead all day.”
Long dry spells at the plate have haunted the season for Pendleton, which had a five-game winning streak snapped by Reynolds. The team is scoring about 4.5 runs per game, but coach Greg Whitten sees a Bucks team capable of much more.
His hitters have been largely out in front of pitches in their games, and the same was true against Reynolds’ pitcher Brett Long. Pendleton made nine outs in the air to the outfield, popping balls up because their timing was off, the coach said.
“In practice we’re going to start doing some drills,” said Whitten about trying to correct the issue. “If they get 10 swings in the (batting) cage and they pop it up, they’re going to just get kicked out and the next guy’s going to come
in. We’re not going to tolerate pop-ups and just trying to pull everything.”
Pendleton hit safely only five times in the game — twice by Lathan Alger.
On the other side, the Reynolds batters ollected nine hits, yet blew through their halves of the inning in fast-forward motion. Pitcher Kevin O’Rourke of Pendleton needed just 81 pitches to complete the game, thanks in part to the Raiders aggressive swings in the batter’s box.
The Raiders, a Class 6A school based in Troutdale, averaged less than 2.5 pitches per plate appearance while putting the ball in play 11 times on the first pitch.
Sometimes the approach yielded high returns — like No. 8 hitter Alec Dehnert’s 2-for-3 day that included four pitches in three appearances — but other times it was disasterous. O’Rourke had easy innings of four and eight pitches.
“In past games we’ve definitely gotten behind in the counts and we didn’t want that this game,” Dehnert said. “I think it worked out for us today; we got a lot of hits and good solid line drives.”
The Bucks then played Sunset at dusk to close out the first day of the tournament action. A more balanced attack for Pendleton brought on an 8-4 victory.
Tommy Lane continued his consistent spring with a pair of RBIs and Grant Klopmeyer batted in two more runs. The team had better timing at the plate, Whitten said.
The sophomore pitching combination of Chad McCoy and Taylor Hillmick did a great job of keeping the Bucks ahead after they took the lead with a three-run bottom of the third.
Pendleton had trailed 3-2 to Sunset — another 6A team from the Portland area — heading into the third but would never relinquish the lead.
The Bucks continue play at the Spring Break Classic with Canby and Roseburg today starting at 11 a.m.