By David Bashore
Herald sports reporter
HERMISTON The Pendleton Nationals knocked across six runs in the first two innings en route to a 10-2 win over Hermiston on Sunday night.
The game was the opener for each team in the 14-year-old division of the district Babe Ruth baseball tournament, which runs until Friday at Weber Field.
Hermiston hurler Kyle Rhodes was roughed up over the first two innings but settled down to give up one run over the next three.
The bats, however, failed to help deliver the goods for the 14-year-old all star squad, as they were only able to muster a two-run fightback in the first inning.
"We played pretty hard the whole game, we just didn't get the hits we needed to and didn't produce like we needed to," Hermiston 14s head coach Greg Kaatz said. "The Pendleton Nationals are definitely one of the best teams here, no question."
Rhodes, center-fielder Travis Bratton and shortstop Brad Morton helped kick-started the two-run rally in the bottom of the first, each doubling in the frame.
Bratton, Morton and first baseman Travis Coffelt flashed some leather as well, making some difficult plays in order to keep the game alive for the Hermiston bats.
Morton's diving snare of a line-shot ticketed for left-field was probably the defensive play of the game, but Bratton made two difficult catches in center field as well, and Coffelt covered significant ground to chase down a pair of infield pop-ups.
One thing that was evident, though Kaatz refused to use it as an excuse, was that Pendleton appeared far more organized and cohesive as a unit.
The Nationals have enjoyed more continuity over the years and in this all-star season, having the same coaches year in, year out and having twice the practice time of the Hermiston all-stars, who had just four practices before the tournament kicked off.
"There's a little bit to be said for that," Kaatz said. "But we're looking at the kids and getting a lot of teaching moments with them. It's fun to get to work with them, and we're getting a lot of teaching moments."
The next Hermiston 14s game comes against Blue Mountain tonight at 7 p.m. They will end pool play with a game against the Pendleton Americans Wednesday at 4 p.m.
The Hermiston 13s dropped a five-inning affair to the Pendleton Nationals on Friday night, 11-1.
Pendleton got to starting pitcher Esteban Martinez early and often, chasing him in the third inning.
Hermiston 13s' final pool-play game comes Wednesday at 1 p.m.
Results from Monday's game against Blue Mountain were not available at press time.