Small ball lifts Knights over Cougars

Irrigon third baseman Tia Johnson (7) dislodges the ball from Echo pitcher Ashley Martinez in the second inning of the Knights' 3-2 win over the Cougars on Thursday.

By David Bashore

Herald sports editor

Irrigon — An errant throw on a perfectly-placed sacrifice bunt by Irrigon catcher Kim Campos allowed Noelle Wright to score the winning run from second base as the Knights topped Echo 3-2 on Thursday.

Irrigon (4-1, 1-0 Special District 5) won the game in the seventh inning on a walk and two sacrifice bunts, both of which were fielded cleanly by Echo (4-6, 0-1 SD5) players, but poor throws allowed each of the runners to reach safely.

Echo pitcher Ashley Martinez threw a complete game and gave up two hits, neither of which left the infield, but the Cougars were the ones left to rue missed opportunities at the end of the day.

Twice Echo ended their own threat by running into an out courtesy of over-aggressive baserunning — a runner was thrown out at third to kill the third inning, and Martinez was gunned down at home by a perfect throw from Irrigon second baseman Jessica Henrichs to end the fourth.

Baserunning and fundamentals were the decisive factors in the game, and proved crucial as each facet played a hand in Irrigon's winning run.

"I think (baserunning was an issue)," Echo head coach Weeb Williams said. "But really it was that (Irrigon) did the fundamental things so much better than we did (Thursday). But I think our girls got a lesson in that."

Martinez rebounded from getting thrown out at home and delivered a game-tying single in the top of the sixth inning, but Echo could not muster much else aside from plating a run in a first inning headlined by rough Irrigon defense.

"(Martinez) is a warhorse," Williams said. "When we can step it up around her we're going to win some games."

For Irrigon, victory was more than a win in the league opener, it was a message to themselves and their four district that they can compete.

"We started five freshmen out there, and we didn't know what to expect," Knights head coach Jake McElligott said. "We'll take wins like these, but the girls know (now) that they can compete in this league."

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

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