By the Hermiston Herald
HERMISTON One swing of the bat was all it took.
Kasey Pankey hit a three-run home run in the top of the fourth inning that propelled the Hermiston 11-12-year-old Little League All-Stars to a 3-2 victory over Jefferson County Monday at the District 5 Tournament at the Field of Dreams.
With the win, Hermiston improves to 3-0 in pool play and is likely headed for bracket play that starts on Thursday. Hermiston can clinch the pool play title with a win today.
Jefferson County pitcher Austin Say was rolling along until the fourth inning. He had retired the first nine batters he faced until Brad Morton looped a double to center field to lead off the top of the fourth. Travis Bratton followed with a walk before Pankey's shot cleared the center-field wall to give Hermiston a 3-0 lead.
Jefferson County rallied with a run in the bottom of the inning and added another in the fifth to cut the gap to 3-2. Morton ended the rally in the fifth with a slick play on a tough hop at shortstop to end the inning.
Jefferson County had a chance to tie the game in the last half of the sixth with a runner on second base and one out. But Pankey recorded back-to-back strikeouts to end the game.
Hermiston 11, Hood River White 10:
The Hermiston All-Stars improved to 2-0 Saturday with a narrow 11-10 win over Hood River.
Hermiston took an 11-9 lead into the sixth inning where Hood River scored one run and had the tying run on base before escaping.
Hermiston took the lead for good with a five-run third inning and then scored five more in the fifth.
Ben Millard and Anthony Montez each had two hits in the win.
Columbia 0 (4 innings):
Hermiston started the tournament with a bang Friday afternoon, routing Columbia Little League 14-0 in the tournament opener for both teams.
Morton picked up the win, going three innings and striking out six.
Morton led Hermiston with three hits and Montez, Travis Bratton and Pankey added two hits.
For Columbia, Nickolaus Armstrong had a solid game behind the plate for and got some key plays from Tyler Carroll at second base.
n Columbia slides late in loss to Bend South:
Columbia Little League dropped to 0-3 in the tournament with a 7-2 loss in pool play Monday afternoon.
Bend South broke a 2-2 deadlock with five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning that included a grand slam by Kenny Norgaard.
Columbia took a 1-0 lead in the first inning before Bend South scored two in its first at-bat.
Lawrence Panky tied the game 2-2 in the top of the second inning with an RBI single that scored Trey Blevins, who was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning.
Columbia's defense was highlighted by a slick double play started by Carroll at third base, who tossed the ball quickly to Mario Madrigal at second in the bottom of the third inning.
Willow Creek 11, Columbia 1 (5 innings):
Bryant Tarter-Stith accounted for Columbia's only run of the day with a solo home run to right field in an 11-1, five-inning loss to Willow Creek Saturday.
Hermiston (3-0) can clinch a spot in bracket play outright with a win today at 12:30 p.m. vs. Willow Creek. Hermiston then plays Bend South to close ot pool play Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. Columbia (0-3) needs a win today vs. Jefferson County to stay alive for a chance at bracket play. Columbia closes with Hood River at 12:15 on Wednesday.