Union/Coveís Kaleb Poor slides safely into third base Friday as Wallowa/Imblerís Michael Pendarvis fields the ball. The Bobcats split the district doubleheader with the Cats. (Casey Kellas/The Observer)
By Casey Kellas/The Observer
WALLOWA — The Union/Cove baseball team kept its hopes alive for a first-place finish in Special District 7 with a split with Wallowa/Imbler Friday.
They just didn’t think it would take a marathon to do it.
The Bobcats fell in the opener, 5-2, before picking up the second game, 11-10, in a three-hour, eight- inning slugfest.
“We knew going in to stay in the hunt for first or second we had to get at least one,” Union/Cove head coach Greg Poor said. “And we got one. We would have liked to of had two, but we simply didn’t play well enough to get two.”’
Wallowa/Imbler coach Bill Robb wasn’t as satisfied about a split for his team.
“It shouldn’t have been a split,” Robb said. “We had the bases loaded three, four times. That (second game) should have never went extra innings.”
Union/Cove had its bats quieted by Wallowa/Imbler’s Wes Conrad in the opener. Conrad picked up a complete-game victory, striking out seven along the way.
After the Cats took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, a Kaleb Poor RBI single in the third inning tied the game for the Bobcats. Poor put Union/Cove ahead with an RBI single in the fifth.
But a four-run fifth inning for Wallowa/Imbler proved to be the Bobcats undoing. After Conrad drew a two-out walk, RBI singles by Casey Robertson and Reed Graves put the Cats in front, before a two-run single by Trace VanCleave capped the scoring.
Conrad was able to hold the Bobcats in the final two innings, assuring Wallowa/Imbler of at least one victory on the day.
“That outside corner treated me pretty well, I have to say,” Conrad said.
Conrad admitted that he was starting to get fatigued late in the game.
“I could feel it. But I just sucked it up, pulled through and worked hard, I guess.”
Poor led Union/Cove at the plate, going 4-for-4 with a pair of RBIs. Ty Coon took the loss, going five innings and striking out five. Dalton Opie struck out two in an inning of relief.
That led to the second-game marathon.
Union/Cove built up a 6-2 lead through five innings and looked to be in control. But Wallowa/Imbler struck for four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to tie it.
The Bobcats added three runs in the top of the seventh, only to see the Cats match it with three runs of their own to send the game to an extra frame.
An RBI double by Coon and a sacrifice fly by Brax Anderson in the top of the eighth inning gave Union/Cove a two-run cushion.
Wallowa/Imbler scored a run in the bottom of the eighth, but Cortin Nowak was able to close out the game on the mound for Union/Cove, assuring the split.
Poor finished 3-for-4 at the plate. He also pitched four innings and struck out seven while taking a no decision. Coon was 2-for-4, while Anderson, Opie and Cody VanderZanden each added two hits for Union/Cove.
Joe Griffin had a three-hit game for Wallowa/Imbler, while Conrad, Robertson and Graves all had two hits.
Union/Cove is now 8-7 overall and 6-1 in district, while Wallowa/Imbler is 9-6 overall and 4-4 in district. Grant Union leads with a 4-0 mark in district.
“We’re one game out of first now and three games ahead of third place,” Poor said. “We’re still sitting in a good spot. We just have to fix some things.”
Union/Cove has the week off before traveling to play Grant Union May 10. Wallowa/Imbler hosts Joseph/Enterprise Friday.