PENDLETON — When lefty James Caldwell steps on the diamond for the Blue Mountain Community College baseball squad, coach Brett Bryan has come to expect a solid outing from the pitcher. Unfortunately for the Timberwolves, those outings haven’t always translated into tallies in the win column.
On Saturday, the 6-foot pitcher orchestrated a gem from the mound, hurling eight scoreless innings to pick up his first victory of the season in the first game of a doubleheader with Shoreline Community College by a score of 6-0. The issue for Caldwell — one he has no control over — has been run support, but on Saturday Blue Mountain scored six runs for the pitcher.
“Caldwell gets in there and he pounds the strike zone and he gives you a chance every time he goes out there on the hill,” Bryan said. “What we have not done is give him very much support offensively. We did that today and consequently he gets a ‘W’ out of it.”
A lot of those came late in the game, though. Caldwell was protecting a 2-0 lead until the bottom of the seventh when his battery opened up for four more runs. The Timberwolves benefited from an error in the inning that allowed a pair to score.
“It was nice this game with everybody’s pretty good intensity,” said Caldwell, a graduate of Pendleton High. “They were hitting the ball, I had backup, and it was really nice.”
Dustin Lippert had a pair of singles for Blue Mountain to go with two more walks in Game 1. He leads the team with a .406 batting average.
But in the second contest, Blue Mountain’s timely hitting evaporated. The Timberwolves were 3-of-17 with runners in scoring position and couldn’t maintain a rally while falling 15-4. BMCC stranded 18 men on base, including leaving the bases loaded three times.
Add those up with Shoreline’s 14 hits on offense and out comes the first victory of the year for the Dolphins, now 1-8.
“As bad as we just got beat, we should have won that game,” BMCC’s Bryan said. “We should have chased their starting guy out of the game by the second, but we didn’t.”
“As well as we played in the first one, I was surprised that we came out and played like that in the second one.”
Already up 9-4 in the ninth, the Dolphins blew up the Timberwolves’ bullpen. Shoreline scored six runs in the inning, capped by a grand slam home run from Gabriel Rochon. The drive was a sure-thing off the bat and cleared the left field fence with plenty of room to spare.
“Coach (Ryan Browne) told me right before that pitch, ‘I want you to explode on one to right-center,’” Rochon said of his homer. “I mean it wasn’t to right-center but I guess we’ll take it.”
The right fielder had three hits in the game and five RBIs.
BMCC (5-9) hosts Mt. Hood Community College (6-4) in a double header today at 11 a.m., the team’s final games before NWAACC East league play starts on Wednesday.