The Devin Oil Hermiston Heat put up one heck of a fight, but came up on the wrong end of a walk-off hit Friday.

In the first game of the Hermiston Father’s Day American Legion baseball tournament, the Hanford “AA” Flames and the Heat battled for nine innings, two more than a regulation Junior Legion game, but Hanford’s David Juergens plated Steve Quadrel with a double for the Flame to snatch a 5-4 win out from underneath the Heat.

The programs have played each other earlier in the season with Hanford’s “A” team, younger than the “AA” team, pummeling the Heat 12-1 in a game Heat manager Brent Mattson said “seemed like it would never end.”

This game, however, the Heat nearly pulled out a win, and Mattson was teeming with praise.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the way we hung in there,” he said. “The boys came back today and played tough. We had our inning where he had some hiccups, but came back in and settled in.”

The inning where the yips happened for the Heat was the fifth. A pair of errors, two wild pitches and a hits batsman ended up costing the Heat three crucial runs. It gave the Flames a 4-2 lead after five complete after Quadrel stole home and two sacrifice flies were lifted into the outfield.

Devin Oil fought back to tie the game in the sixth when Landon Gammell hit a rocket at Hanford shortstop Brady Heid that bounced off his mitt to allow Michael Gossler to score.

Dylan Caldwell hit a double for the inning’s first baserunner, then rumbled home on a Gossler single.

In the ninth, the Heat’s Austin Monahan laid down a perfect bunt for a base hit, stole second base to get into scoring position, but ended up being caught a little too far off the bag during a Chase Root at-bat and was picked off by catcher Aaron Enderlin. Root singled three pitches later.

Monahan anticipated the ball hitting the dirt and bounced off second with a bigger-than-usual secondary lead, but Enderlin made a great play to pick it clean and throw behind Monahan for the out.

“We’ve just got to limit our mistakes,” Mattson said. “We wanted to be aggressive on a ball in the dirt and it was a tough read. If it hits the dirt, he advances to third.”

Hard-throwing right-handed pitcher Nychal Gritz tossed 6.1 innings for the Heat. He struck out six batters in 100 pitches, 52 for strikes. He walked four and hit four more while he gave up two earned runs.

Michael Norris was saddled with the tough-luck loss on the hill for the Heat after two innings of otherwise brilliant relief work. The only hits he allowed happened to be the two that ultimately decided the game in the ninth.

“We came in and did what he had to do,” Mattson said. “He was a nice change of pace and did great.”

Landon Gammel was 2 for 4 and Root was 2 for 5 at the plate for the Heat.

The result of the Heat’s second game of the day — against the Pendleton Pepsi DiamondJaxx — was unavailable by the Herald’s press time. A recap will appear in Wednesday’s paper.

 

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