By David Bashore

Herald sports editor

Boardman — Junior pitcher Sam Pedro gutted out a doubleheader in the circle to help Riverside earn a 3A state softball playoff berth with a sweep over Vale on Friday.

The victories, both by nine runs, coupled with Nyssa's sweep of Burns to ensure that the Pirates (11-3, 6-0 Eastern Oregon League) would qualify for the state playoffs with four games to spare in the league season.

Temperatures eclipsing 80 degrees made playing the games tough mentally and physically, and Riverside struggled at the onset of their first game with the Vikings.

A team that had piled up the runs in the EOL so far this year failed to scratch a single one across in the first two innings, and it took an error to help open the floodgates in the third.

Courtney Hancock, who went 3-for-4 with three runs scored in the first game, smacked a one-out triple, then scored when Sarah Wilson's sacrifice attempt yielded an error.

Pedro doubled in Wilson and the rout was on.

Riverside scored three more in the fourth, and five in the sixth — three coming on a bases-clearing double by Brittney McCullough — in the 10-1 romp.

The second game came a bit easier for the Lady Pirates, as they scored four times in the first inning in a runaway 11-2 win.

Hancock reached on an error to start the game — Vale committed seven miscues in the game, leading to eight unearned runs — and catcher Jordan Mittelsdorf doubled her home two batters later.

Pedro singled in Mittelsdorf, McCullough doubled in Pedro, and Heather Hancock doubled in McCullough to put the game essentially to bed before it had even gotten underway in earnest.

Pirate coach Randy Barton was pleased with the patience and with the adjustments his team made.

"We've really been on a roll offensively," Barton said. "The first game was the first one in a long time where we didn't score in the first inning, but we've had some trouble with the riseball. I think we were a ltitle impatient to begin with, but when people came up in positions to drive in runs they did that.

Riverside is now assured of a playoff spot, and likely at least a second seed, but they can remove all doubt if they pull off a doubleheader sweet at Grant Union this weekend.

David Bashore can be reached at dbashore@ hermistonherald.com.

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