LA GRANDE — Creating a worthy encore after Mac-Hi pitcher Colette Robert threw a perfect game on Saturday would be a tough task for most teams, but Monday’s league-tiebreakering softball game with Baker gave Kaitlin Erm the perfect opportunity to try her hand at flirting with a no-hitter.
Erm shut down Baker for four innings before tagging in Robert to finish off the Bulldogs in a 1-0 neutral-site contest in La Grande. The victory gives the Pioneers (14-9, 10-2 GOL) the Greater Oregon League top seed going into the play-in round of the state playoffs this weekend.
The Pioneers will host for their next game, likely on Saturday although the scheduling has not been finalized.
“If they work that well together, teams are going to have a hard time with us,” she said. “With one game (playoff scenarios) we can stretch them out. We can work them together and do an awesome job.”
Erm said she felt no pressure to try and recreate Robert’s perfecto on Monday. As teammates, she said they are mutual admirers of each other’s craft. That being said, the Bulldogs started off the fifth inning with a gapping zero in their hits column thanks to Erm’s efforts.
That’s all the more impressive considering the opponent. The Bulldogs (16-7, 10-2 GOL) led the league with 182 runs in the 22-game regular season and Mac-Hi needed a season-finale sweep of Ontario to force the one-game playoff against them. Baker was coming off a nine-home run series when it set its sights on Pioneer pitching.
“They will hit it out if you put it down the middle,” Erm said. “I had to hope I had a good ump who called my spots and I did (Monday).”
Erm struck out seven batters in the first four innings, but got in a little trouble when the Bulldogs loaded the bases on three singles in the fifth. Protecting a 1-0 lead, Christian went to the bullpen and a fresh Robert.
A lefty and a change of pace from Erm’s style, Robert struck out Baker’s leadoff hitter on four pitches to escape the jam.
“We can strike them all out,” Robert said of her team’s pitching staff heading into the postseason. “If we put our minds to it, of course.”
Robert’s golden left arm also helped plate the only run of the game. Kariss Carillo led off the fourth inning with a single to center field before Robert laced a line drive into the gap in left center. The ball rolled all the way to the fence at Eastern Oregon University’s Peggy Anderson Softball Field allowing Carillo to score from first base.
Robert added a double later in the game for the only multi-hit performance for the Pioneers.
Baker accumulated only four hits off of the Pioneer power pair but left runners in scoring position three times in the game.
“If we had to do it over, we’d just need two or three hits in a row and we’d have been good to go,” said Baker pitcher DJ McCauley, who struck out eight in a complete game victory that was nearly as dominant. She added that she didn’t make many mistake pitches and Robert’s RBI-double was a batting success, not a pitching failure.
The two teams split a regular season series 2-2 this year. Baker will also host a play-in game later this week.
Contact reporter AJ Mazzolini at (541) 966-0839 or firstname.lastname@example.org.