By David Bashore
Herald sports reporter
ONTARIO A key first inning error set a negative tone for Hermiston in their opener of the state tournament, which they dropped to Beaverton 10-6 Thursday.
After scoring a pair of runs without recording a single hit in the top of the first to take the initial lead, Hermiston suffered the untimely miscue in the bottom of the first on a routine ground ball.
The error theme continued all day for the Hermiston 13s, as they committed four errors in total on the day.
Beaverton padded the lead through the middle innings, and a two-run bases-loaded hit in the bottom of the sixth broke Hermiston's collective back.
The junior Bulldogs did, however, score a couple of consolation runs in the seventh to make it a bit closer.
"We just didn't hit the ball today at all," Hermiston coach Roger Simmons said. "I couldn't tell you why (they didn't hit), but I think at the beginning both teams were a bit nervous."
Estevan Martinez started the game on the hill for Hermiston, tossing three sound innings before giving way to Booter Lewis, whose three innings pitched and two base hits earned him Player of the Game recognition.
For the defensive lapses, Hermiston made a few solid plays to back up their pitching, highlighted by an outfield-assisted doubleplay by Joey Burns, who snared a fly ball and gunned down a Beaverton baserunner who had strayed too far from first base.
The loss, while disappointing to the Hermiston faithful, follows a script penned by this team over a year ago.
This same group of ballplayers lost their opening game of the district tournament last season and won the rest of their games. This season they lost the opener of the district tournament and then won three straight to reach the final.
"They're following the script," Simmons said. "That's the way they've done it, so I expect we'll play better tomorrow."
Hermiston, which finished second in the district to Pendleton, is grouped with the three other district champions in their pool.
They represent the district champion because Pendleton qualified directly into the Northwest Regional tournament as hosts.
The other pool holds all the runners up from the four districts, and all eight teams will use pool play as seeding for a knockout bracket, which will be played out Sunday and Monday.
"We're going to try and beat some district champs," a confident Simmons said.
Hermiston plays The Dalles this afternoon at 1 p.m., and will wrap up pool play against the hosts Snake River Valley (Ontario) Saturday night at 7.