By Christopher Halsey
Herald Sports Editor
PENDLETON The Hermiston 15-year old Babe Ruth All-Stars stumbled in their first game at the North Oregon State Tournament in Pendleton against Grant, but recovered to reach the semi-finals with three straight wins.
Grant rallied late in the opening game Friday for a 14-7 win before Hermiston earned a pool play win, 11-1 over Harney County Saturday. Hermiston won over the host team 7-3 Sunday and 4-1 yesterday over McMinnville.
With pool play over, Hermiston will face either Salem or Grant in a loser out contest tonight at 5 p.m. at Bob White Field. The winner of that game will play at 8 p.m. tonight for the state title.
Hermiston Manager Ron Gibbs explained that with district tournaments recently completed and a busy weekend of state level games, Everybodys pitching is getting tired.
If they should receive a re-match with Grant, Gibbs expects a different outcome. They are no better than we are.
Salem, he said has a potent offense, but not superior pitching.
Gibbs said that Dean Peters will get the 5 p.m. start on the mound for Hermiston and they will work from that point on.
Grant 14, Hermiston 7
A 5-3 lead after the third inning did not hold up for Hermiston in the first round of the North Oregon State Babe Ruth 15-year old tournament Friday, as Grant rallied for a 14-7 win.
Hermistons defense and offense was strong in the early going but the pitching and hitting faltered, allowing Grant to easily claim victory.
Daniel Tremblay singled to open the game and scored on a double by Shawn Turner. Todd Falconer singled for the district champion Hermiston team and Grant was quickly in a 2-0 hole.
Hermiston starting pitcher J.R. Ailanjian retired the first two Grant hitters he faced, but got into trouble after walking Matt Hibbitts in the first inning. Spencer Hill laced a double and Ilmar Rasperik singled to tie the game. Tremblay doubled and scored in the second inning to help Hermiston to a 2-0 lead and Ailanjian pitched out of a 2-out bases loaded jam in the bottom of the second.
In the third, Dean Peters walked and scored on a single by Michael Pedro to help Hermiston to a 5-2 lead. Grant then scored in each of the final four innings.
With eight runs in the fifth inning, Hermiston ended the second game early after breaking up a 3-1 contest.
Three Harney County errors and five Hermiston hits ended Harney County hopes.
Tremblay and Falconer each had a pair of singles while Pedro led the Hermiston attack with three hits, including a double.
Hermiston 7, Pendleton 3
With a strong first inning at the plate, Hermiston got all the runs they would need, thanks to a strong outing by pitcher Todd Falconer.
He allowed only three hits and as many runs. Peters keyed the first inning offense with a double and he later singled. Michael Christopher was 3-for-3 in the game.
Hermiston 4, McMinnville 1
Hermiston needed only one key offensive inning to take care of McMinnville in pool play action.
The District 5 champions scored three times in the decisive third inning, thanks to RBI singles by Falconer and Ailanjian.
Zach Martin led off the inning with a walk, but was thrown out at second trying to steal. Tremblay then walked and Turner delivered a sacrifice bunt ahead of Falconers single.
Hermiston had three runners thrown out at second in the game and another was picked off, thwarting several other scoring opportunities.
Turner pitched all seven innings for the win, striking out one and giving up only six hits and an unearned run in the fourth.
Thats our third good game pitching in a row, Gibbs said.
The first five batters in the McMinnville lineup were a combined 2-for-15 against Turner.
The Hermiston offense was less able to hit, with Ailanjian and Falconer getting singles.
Wildness was the undoing of the McMinnville pitchers. Nine Hermiston batters walked and two others were beaned.
(For complete coverage, including boxscores see the July 24 edition of The Hermiston Herald).