The Hermiston Spuds American Legion baseball team started the season with a pair of wins in three games, culminating in a doubleheader split with the Hodgen Red Bulls on Monday at Weber Field.

The Spuds dropped the opener with the Pendleton club, 4-3, but came back to nab the nightcap, 5-4, thanks in part to a bases loaded walk.

In the team’s first game of the season, they clobbered the Kennewick Dusters, 14-2.

In the second game with the Red Bulls, Hermiston’s Camran Pollick drove in a pair of runs with a single to give the Spuds a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the sixth.

After the Red Bulls tied the game in the seventh on a suicide squeeze play, Hermiston went to work in the bottom half.

Two walks, plus an intentional walk, loaded the bases for the Spuds, and one of the unceremonious ways to walk off with a win happened — John Couture was walked to force the winning run home.

Pollick drove in three runs for the Spuds in the nightcap and also earned the pitching win with two solid innings of relief.

Hermiston starting pitcher Zack Demos ended up not figuring into the decision, but still pitched very well.

The crafty lefty scattered six hits while he allowed three runs, two earned, and he struck out three in five innings of work.

Nychal Gritz, Jason Almaguer and Michael Moya all had base hits in the ballgame for the Spuds.

In the opener, Hermiston’s fielding woes got the best of them.

The Spuds committed five errors which led to all of Hodgen’s runs being unearned, undermining a very good pitching outing from Sean Smith.

Smith threw six innings, and while he didn’t strike anybody out, he allowed six hits and walked a pair in 30 batters faced.

Hermiston took an early 2-0 lead after Thomas Hamblin blasted his first home run of the year over the left field fence in the second inning off Hodgen lefty Taylor Hillmick.

The Red Bulls scored three runs in the fourth due to the bulk of the Spuds’ fielding troubles, something that plagued the high school team all throughout the year as well.

“We just didn’t make the routine plays,” Spuds’ manager Doug Taylor said. “All of the runs were unearned and that kinda kills you.”

Outside of the dinger Hamblin belted, Hillmick had an outstanding day for the Red Bulls on the hill.

He went all seven innings with 12 strikeouts and allowed just one walk. Four Spuds were two-time strikeout victims of the left-hander.

Pollick, Gritz and Hamblin each drove in a run in the opener while Smith helped himself out at the plate with a pair of hits, one a double.

Spuds 14, Kennewick Dusters 2

In Saturday’s season opener at Weber Field, the Spuds sprayed the ball around the field in the mercy-rule shortened contest.

The game was originally scheduled for nine innings, but the 10-run rule was enacted after Kennewick’s at-bat in the top of the seventh.

Kopacz drove in the first two runs with a double, which plated Jesus Rosales and Sean Smith, and he later scored to give the Spuds a 3-0 lead.

Pollick had a huge day at the plate, going 3 for 5 with five RBIs and a titanic home run over the centerfield fence at Weber Field in the fourth inning.

The Spuds picked up four runs in the fifth inning on a Kopacz double and a Pollick single, plus an error on the Dusters’ center fielder.

Couture hurled the first three innings for the Spuds and was wild, yet effective.

He walked five guys but struck out seven and allowed just two hits and two earned runs.

The corps of relievers for the Spuds didn’t allow a hit the rest of the way.

Demos ended up earning the statistical win, pitching the fourth and fifth innings with four strikeouts and a walk.

Almaguer and Pollick tossed the sixth and seventh and didn’t allow a hit.

Hermiston has seven extra-base hits and Kopacz drove in four runs with a 2 for 4 day at the plate.

Smith scored four times and Rosales three.

“I was little bit nervous since we haven’t been able to be on the field too much, but we came out and swung the bats well,” Taylor said. “Our pitchers threw outstanding.”

Taylor spent the high school season with the junior varsity program, and while the Spuds made up of mostly Hermiston’s varsity team, Taylor said he knows the group well enough to know they are some talented ballplayers.

“I don’t think their high school record indicated how talented they are,” he said. “We’ll compete, win a lot of games and there’s no doubt in my mind we can win districts and make a good showing at state.”

The Spuds are in The Dalles today for a doubleheader, then will be back at home — but at Shockman Field — for a doubleheader at 3 p.m. Friday with the Kennewick Phantoms.

 

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