The Hermiston 11-12 Little League baseball team is having a blast in Pendleton.
Five blasts through Monday, as a matter of fact.
The squad continued to combine precise fielding, quality pitching and a proficiency for the long ball to win its first three games of the state tournament and guarantee a semifinal in Thursday's semifinals at Ken Melton Park.
Austin Kopacz and Sean Smith each went yard in Monday's 15-7 win over Corvallis, while Kopacz, Smith and Heath Baldock all hit homers in Sunday's 9-4 victory over Sheldon.
The squad started the train moving Saturday with a 7-3 win over Medford National Central, in which Jesus Rosales threw a complete game win. The young pitcher allowed three runs in the first three innings and none the rest of the way, striking out eight with four hits allowed.
Tied 3-3 going into the sixth inning, Hermiston rallied for four runs on big hits by Rosales and Smith.
In Sunday's game, Hermiston scored early and often, putting up numbers in each frame except the second and carrying a lead through the entirety.
Alex Campbell earned the win with four innings pitched, while Smith busted out of what he considered a slump with three RBIs in three plate appearances.
Hermiston and Corvallis tangled through three innings Monday, trading leads and ties through half the game.
Garret Whitsett took the mound in the second inning and allowed three runs in 1 2/3 innings, but from there on out he shut Corvallis down.
"Once I got in a rhythm I was pretty confident," he said. "Then we scored some more runs and that took a lot of stress away."
Hermiston took a 11-7 lead in the fourth inning with RBIs by Austin Kopacz and Jason Almaguer, then got out of a jam in the fifth with a spectacular play by Baldock.
With Corvallis players filling the bases and one out, Trever Jenssen lofted a shot to deep left field. Baldock made the catch and threw the ball from the warning track, landing a one-hop strike in catcher Smith's glove.
Smith then applied the tag on a sliding Trent Hardin to record the final out of the inning, avoiding what could have been costly rally.
Baldock then led off the next inning with a walk, followed by a Jason Almaguer single and a Cole Schwirse walk to load the bases. Smith followed by providing the last bit of firepower Hermiston needed with a grand slam to right field.
Hermiston played Tuesday in its final pool game, has today off and will begin its bid for a state championship Thursday against a yet-to-be-decided opponent.
The? state championship game is Friday at 7 p.m.