TIGERS WIN TWO IN FINAL AT BAT
By Pat Perkins
Observer Staff Writer
ISLAND CITY Winning in their last at bat of the 13th inning was so much fun for the La Grande Tigers that they decided to wait until their final at bat to win their second game Thursday.
Both game-winning hits over the Riverside Pirates were infield singles, and together the 1-0 and 2-1 wins evened La Grande's Greater Oregon League softball record at 4-4 and avenged a doubleheader loss two weeks ago to Riverside.
"They played like they were the defending GOL champs," La Grande coach Nicole Christian said. "It was huge for us. They knew that they had a chance, especially since Riverside lost to Ontario."
The losses dropped the Pirates to 3-3 in the GOL and left the title race wide open, with La Grande having a slightly easier schedule the rest of the way.
"From here on out we've got to try to win every game," Christian said.
The first game stretched to 13 innings thanks to powerful pitching from Riverside's Erica Hancock and La Grande's Des McCoy and Megan Caldwell.
Hancock went the distance both games, throwing 263 pitches over 19 innings. She struck out 24 batters, walked none and gave up seven hits.
McCoy went the first six innings, but in the seventh, after she gave up a two-out single to Keatra Jensen that moved Sara Russell to third base, she was replaced by Caldwell, who got Rachelle Donovan to pop out.
Caldwell gave up just one hit over the next five innings while striking out six.
Defense failed the Pirates at the end of both games. Hancock walked Erin Henjum to lead off the bottom of the 13th, and an error by first baseman Jensen allowed Henjum to move to second. After Kylie Lanman struck out, Jensen dropped a pickoff throw from catcher Bre Totten, and that moved Henjum to third base.
Caldwell struck out, but Meghan Henderson followed with a grounder deep to third base, and Henderson beat the throw to first while Henjum scored the winning run. Henderson had two of La Grande's three hits.
Amanda Marcum pitched into the fifth inning in the second game, but Caldwell replaced her after she gave up a leadoff double to Hancock. Caldwell gave up a single to Russell that scored Riverside's only run of the day.
In the bottom of the fifth, La Grande had runners on first and second with two outs. With Caldwell at the plate, Christian called for the steal, but the runner was picked off at third base.
That left Caldwell at the plate to lead off the sixth, which the umpires had said would be the last because of impending darkness. Caldwell hit a double to the center field fence, the only extra-base hit La Grande had all day.
Henderson then hit a grounder to first base and the first baseman ran to tag her. But Henderson dodged and juked away from the tag and when the first baseman dropped the ball, Danielle Tams, running for Caldwell, raced for home. Tams beat the tag to tie the game, and Henderson ended up on second base.
Chelsea Long bunted Henderson to third base before Marcum grounded to second. The second baseman threw to first, however, instead of trying to get Henderson at home. Marcum was safe, and so was Henderson at home.
"I'm so proud of the girls. Everybody did their job," Christian said.
La Grande (5-8) continues its league season Saturday with a doubleheader against McLoughlin in Milton-Freewater.
Riverside 000 000 000 000 0 0 6 3
La Grande 000 000 000 000 1 1 3 2
E.Hancock and Totten; McCoy, Caldwell (7) and Henderson. WP Caldwell. LP E.Hancock.
La Grande hits Henderson 2, Sternfeld. RBI Henderson.
Riverside 000 010 1 6 3
La Grande 000 002 2 4 2
E.Hancock and Totten; Marcum, Caldwell (5) and Henderson. WP Caldwell. LP E.Hancock.
La Grande hits Long, Marcum, Henjum, Caldwell. 2B Caldwell. RBI Marcum.