HERMISTON — The aggressive base running that nearly got the Devin Oil Heat an upset victory in the early game of the Father's Day Tournament against the Hanford Jr. Flames on Friday, also helped make sure the team wouldn't score a run in the top of the ninth inning. Instead, Hanford would manufacture its own run in the bottom half to win 5-4.
Tied at 4-4 at the end of regulation in the opener of the Legion baseball tournament at Weber Field in Hermiston, the Heat's No. 9 hitter Austin Monahan laid down a perfect bunt to the left of the pitcher's mound to get on base with one out. Seeing an opportunity to move up a base, Monahan swiped second.
"When it first got by, I was standing there and then I looked up and he'd gotten it back already," Monahan said. "I realized I needed to get back but his throw was too quick."
The next batter, Chase Root, stroked a single to left field that may have scored the runner after an outfield bobble allowed Root to advance to second base.
Hermiston coach Brent Mattson said he loves aggressive base running, but sometimes the boys need to do some picking an choosing when to put the game in motion.
"We preach to the boys, don't be afraid of making mistakes," he said. "We certainly don't want to get after them in a situation like that and have them start running the bases tentatively."
Taking the extra base proved the perfect game plan for Hanford (8-5) in the bottom of the ninth. With one out, Steven Quadrel singled and then took second with a steal of his own. He finished the game with three steals.
The next batter, three-hole hitter David Juergens, loped a double to left center field. Despite some hesitation by Quadrel trying to anticipate if the ball was within the outfielders' reach, his speed still beat the relay throws to home to score the game winner.
"I knew we needed to get a run and I wanted to put myself in the best position possible," Quadrel said.
The loss dropped the Heat to 1-7 on the summer but the tight, extra-inning contest could do more for the boys' mental approach than anything else. When Hermiston played Hanford's young Legion team last week, the score ended in an ugly 12-1 decision — the type of game where you're just hoping to get to the fifth inning so it'll be over, Mattson said.
"The boys came back today and they played tough," he said. "Hopefully these guys will realize, shoot we can play, just have to try and eliminate mistakes, obviously."
The Devin Oil Heat collected 12 hits, led by two each from Root, Kyler Mikami and Landon Gammell.
Contact AJ Mazzolini at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839.