By AJ MAZZOLINI
ATHENA — Micha Hintz had some trouble getting on base against Weston-McEwen in Game 2 of a doubleheader on Saturday, twice having potential base hits taken away by ranging defenders.
But in the 10th inning, Hintz made it to second base without even picking up a bat and provided the go-ahead run in Heppner’s 3-2 victory to help the Mustangs salvage a split with the TigerScots in Athena.
Per OSAA ruling, when a game exceeds nine innings, the final batter from inning No. 9 starts the 10th at second base. The rule is designed to spark the offenses and lessen the likelihood of marathon games. On Saturday, it did just that as Hintz tagged up and scored from third on a sacrifice fly by Baily Bennett after both teams had left runners in scoring position in the innings since the end of regulation.
Though the TigerScots were afforded the same luxury of a runner at second in their half of the 10th, she never made it past third base.
By taking the second game of the twin bill after Weston-McEwen (11-8, 6-6 SD5) stormed to an 8-1 victory in the morning half, Heppner (18-4, 10-2 SD5) threw the Special District 5 postseason seeding into disarray. Coupled with an Irrigon sweep of Echo at home, the day’s finals left three teams tied for second in the district with the regular season completed. The Mustangs had long ago wrapped up the regular season title, but Echo (15-9, 6-6 SD5), Irrigon (13-8, 6-6 SD5) and Weston-McEwen entered into a series of tiebreakers.
With each team owning a head-to-head advantage over one of the others, Irrigon will take the No. 2 seed into the district tournament based on run differential. That means Weston-McEwen travels to Echo on Tuesday for the opening game of the playoffs — the Nos. 3 versus 4 matchup. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.
Though the four teams all rank in top six in the state for Class 2A softball by RPIs, only two will make the state tournament this season. With the battles these teams have faced within the Special District 5 ranks, Weston-McEwen coach Jeff Griggs said he expects his conference representatives to make some noise at state.
“My impression is if we get out of districts, we’ll be real tough at state,” Griggs said. “I think all our coaches are saying that right now, too.”
The TigerScots had led the second game 2-0 as late as the sixth inning before Heppner got on the board. The Mustangs finally got to pitcher Molly von Borstel, who threw 15 innings over the doubleheader and had allowed only one run prior to the sixth. Neither of the two that Heppner scored in that inning were earned, though.
Cassi Day doubled in the game-tying run in the sixth inning, part of a 3-for-4 effort in the game.
Each team had its opportunities to end the contest before the 10th. Heppner left 11 runners on base and Weston-McEwen stranded 7.
Game 1 was not nearly as close. Weston-McEwen took a commanding 8-0 lead after the fifth inning when the team
sent 12 girls to the plate and scored seven times. The TigerScots pounded the ball, collecting seven hits, including two
each from Taryn Coffman and McKenzie Fuhrman.
Morgan Entze provided a two-run double to start the scoring, her third hit of the first game.
“I kind of had a couple game slump that I went into and I’ve been really focusing hard at practice and staying after practice to try and get my hitting back so I can help my team out,” said Entze, who added a triple in the second game.
The lone run for the Mustangs came in the top of the seventh when Bennett crushed a 0-1 pitch from von Borstel for her ninth home run of the season.
Bennett also pitched 15 innings spanning the doubleheader and racked up more than 230 pitches along the way. She took the win in the second game while striking out 12 batters.
Contact reporter AJ Mazzolini at (541) 966-0839 or email@example.com.