By James Whalley
HERMISTON By salvaging the final game of a three game homestand versus Intermountain Conference foe Redmond, the Hermiston Bulldogs baseball team has their post season destiny right where they want it...in their own hands.
Hermiston (7-7 in Intermountain Conference play, 13-12 overall) will be looking to secure a state playoff berth Thursday as they host Pendleton in the regular season finale at 5 p.m.
Hermiston dropped the Friday night contest against the Panthers 4-2. With little time for adjustments, the two teams squared off again Saturday afternoon in a crucial doubleheader.
Game one of the twinbill went to Redmond 6-4. The Bulldogs bounced back in game two to earn a big 13-8 victory.
With Redmond in town for the first of three games Friday night, Hermiston would keep themselves in position to win the ball game all night. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs the Panthers would play seven innings of near flawless baseball to take a 4-2 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, Hermistons Luke Carter hit a two out single to keep the Bulldogs hopes alive. The single brought up Jared Zabransky, who already had a two RBI double to his credit in the game. In an unorthodox move, Redmond coach Kevan Pratt called for his pitcher to walk Zabransky, thereby bringing the winning run to the plate in the form of Tyler Hoyt.
The gamble payed off for the Panthers as Hoyt went down on strikes to end the game at 4-2.
Game one of Saturdays doubleheader saw Hermiston take a 4-2 lead, only to succumb in the sixth inning to a Redmond rally. Redmond posted four runs in the inning and took a 6-4 lead into the final inning of play. Hermiston could not mount a comeback and fell 6-4 to end the game. The loss was the Bulldogs sixth in a row as their playoff hopes seemed to be slipping through their grasp.
The adjustments we need to make to get a win is obvious. said Hermiston coach Scott Depew. We need to start hitting the ball.
Having won five of their last six games, Redmond appeared to have all of the momentum on their side. The Panthers jumped out to a 4-2 lead through the first inning of play in the final game of the series.
Hermiston responded and grabbed a narrow 7-6 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth inning. Looking to finally put the Panthers away, the Bulldogs put together a big sixth inning that started when Allen Ayers took first base after being hit by a pitch. Brandon Hickey followed with a single to advance Ayers to second base. Back to back walks to Hoss Veliz and Zabransky scored Ayers from third.
Bergstrom followed Hoyt by launching a 3-run home run over the fence in center field. The final two outs came on strikeouts, but the damage had already been done.Up 13-6, the game would be too far out of reach for a significant Redmond comeback attempt. Redmond scored two runs in the seventh inning, but fell short as Hermiston took the 13-8 victory.
(For complete coverage and boxscores, see the May 8 edition of The Hermiston Herald)