By Ben Reynolds
Herald sports editor
JOHN DAY If the season would have ended with a loss at the district tournament, it would have a left a feeling of unfulfillment with coach Scott Depew.
In a season that was filled with ups and downs, the Hermiston Heat American Legion A baseball team came back from the dead to defeat Baker twice and capture the district title.
Hermiston parlayed that momentum this past weekend to a successful state tournament, posting a 2-2 record at Malone Field in John Day.
Hermiston finished the summer with a 26-18 record.
"If we would have lost to Baker, I would have not had a great feeling (about the summer)," Depew said.
Playing well at state "I feel a lot better about next year."
"A lot of encouraging things happened at the state tournament."
The big turnaround was the Heat offense. Hermiston pounded out 56 hits in four games before having its state title run end Monday afternoon with a 10-8 loss to the Eugene Challengers.
The Hermiston offense finally got going late Monday and did not let up. But in the end a depleted pitching staff and some untimely errors led to the Heat's departure.
On Monday, it was one fifth inning filled with three errors that proved costly. Leading 5-2, Hermiston gave up four runs in that inning and could never regain the lead.
Trailing 9-5, the Heat scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning and appeared to tie the game when Eric Lindley hit a shot to the outfield. But what Depew said looked like a home run off the bat, stayed in the park and kept Sergio Ambriz at third base and Eugene got out of the inning with its one-run lead.
Hermiston opened the tournament Friday with an 18-5 win over Estacada. The Heat exploded in the seventh inning, sending 16 batters to the plate in an 11-run inning that broke open a 7-5 ball game.
Lindley, who hit a two-run home run, recorded his first of two four-hit games at the tournament.
Hermiston improved to 2-0 and earned a spot in the semifinals Saturday as the bats stayed sizzling in a 15-3, five-inning win over Madison.
Lindley had four hits and McLayne Bertsch had three hits. Hermiston again used a big inning to break the game open.
Hermiston scored 11 runs on nine hits in the fourth inning to take a commanding 15-3 advantage.
Tranden Whitsett went the distance to pick up the win on the mound.
The Heat's bid for a spot in the title game hit a roadblock Sunday afternoon with an 18-1, five-inning setback to North Salem.
Despite the lopsided loss, Hermiston continued to hit the ball, but hit into two double plays to ending scoring threats.
"We finished on the right note," Depew said. "