For a pair of local Babe Ruth baseball teams, things are setting up to be an epic Eastern Oregon battle for state supremecy.
Both Hermiston and Tri-County 15-year-old squads have gone undefeated in pool play at the North Oregon Babe Ruth state tournament, held at Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario.
Hermiston knocked off defending champion Tualatin Hills in its opener Tuesday, 5-4, and slugged out 23 hits in a 21-17 hit-parade win against Clackamas.
Heath Baldock went 5 for 6 with three RBIs while Mike Moya and Krys Lopez both smacked four hits.
Hermiston manager Mike Clements said it was one of the most exiciting games of the tournament. His club was down 11-5 at one point but stormed back to take an 18-12 lead.
Clackamas drew within one run after its half of the sixth inning, making the score 18-17, but Austin Kopacz smashed a 3-run homer to give the club some breathing room.
Ray Diaz also homered in the game for Hermiston.
"We needed a game like this to show what we're capable of," Clements said. "Everyone hit the ball hard."
On the other side of the bracket, Tri-County defeated both Southeast Portland and Baker City behind the electric arm of Francisco Nunez.
Nunez sat down 14 batters through five innings against the Portland-based team, leading his team to a resounding 14-0 victory.
More impressive, however, was his performance against Baker City. The 15-year-old fireballer struck out 20, leading his club to a 10-1 win and No. 1 seed into elimination play.
The other team that was supposed to be in Tri-County's pool, Tigard-Tualatin, was a last-minute scratch due to lack of players.
Tri-County asssistant coach Spyder Chapman said the tournament committee tried to get Blue Mountain to come over, but it was too late since Tigard-Tualatin didn't cancel until the Friday before the tournament began.
To make up for the lost game, all three teams in the pool have been playing doubleheaders against each other, with the first game counting toward seeding records, and the second game just counting toward the pitchers' inning limitations.
The championship game will be played tonight at 7 at Elks Memorial Field at TVCC.