By Christopher Halsey
Herald Sports Editor
HERMISTON The Hermiston Bulldog baseball team ended the regular season with a win over cross-county rival Pendleton that propelled them to a second place finish in the Intermountain Conference.
Hermistons 7-2 victory was the second in three games against the Bucks and prevented the Bulldogs from missing the post-season. Hermiston won 5-4 at home in the first meeting, but fell at Pendleton 6-4.
The Bulldogs were fired-up for the game against the Bucks and jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning. Matt Bergstrom pitched all seven innings for Hermiston and improved to 7-3 on the year.
Allen Ayers hit a lead-off single and Brandon Hickey walked ahead of a Hoss Veliz ground-out that put runners on second and third with one out in the first. Jared Zabransky doubled for two RBI and the Bulldogs were on their way to victory.
That was the most energized Ive seen them all year, Hermiston skipper Scott Depew said.
Our first four guys came up and did exactly what we had hoped. They were going crazy, it was fun.
Bergstrom established early dominance with six strike outs in the first three innings. His only scoring blemish came when the Bucks scored two unearned sixth inning runs on a Darren Jio home run that also plated John Grote, who reached on a two-out error.
The Bulldogs touched Pendleton starter Casey Bonner for another run in the third when Hickey singled and later scored.
Playing with their season in the balance seemed not to bother Hermiston.
Depew said that he told the team prior to their final practice before the Pendleton game he hoped it wouldnt be their last practice of the season together.
I could tell right there that they didnt think (that it would be the last). They were ready to keep practicing for a couple more weeks.
I just felt real good going into (the Pendleton) game, Depew added, noting that the teams senior leadership has been helpful.
Senior Bergstrom, who has announced his intent to attend Blue Mountain Community College, was aided in the fourth inning by his defense.
No Bulldog had more than a hit in the game, but six of the starters had a single or a double against Pendleton.
Ayers ended the season with a .325 average after a 1-for-3 day. Hickey was 1-for-2 and has a .333 season average. Veliz was also 1-for-2 and has a .352 season mark. Zabransky and Carter, hitting .487 and .321 respectively, each doubled against the Bucks. Sanchez singled to improve his season average to .250.
One week from today, Hermiston will host the number two seed from the Three Rivers League.
(For complete coverage and boxscores, see the May 15 edition of The Hermiston Herald)