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Union County drops first two at state

Union County third baseman Derek Williams hauls in the ball as a Pendleton baserunner slides in safely Tuesday at the North Oregon State Tournament in Baker City. (CASEY KELLAS/The Observer)
Union County third baseman Derek Williams hauls in the ball as a Pendleton baserunner slides in safely Tuesday at the North Oregon State Tournament in Baker City. (CASEY KELLAS/The Observer)

BAKER CITY — The Union County 13-year-old Babe Ruth all-star team dropped both of its games Tuesday at the North Oregon State Tournament.

Union County fell to The Dalles, 10-6, and then lost to Pendleton, 11-5. 

“It’s tough at this level of the state tournament because you’re playing teams who have played together all year — and some who’ve played together year round — and you basically have to play error-free ball, or close to error-free ball to win a game,” Union County manager Lee Atkinson said.

In the nightcap against Pendleton, Union County got in a four-run hole after giving up three runs in the first inning and another in the second.

Union County was able to score twice in the third inning. A Derek Williams RBI single got UC on the board, and another run scored on an error on a Cody Dubray hit.

But Pendleton answered with a five-run fourth inning. Two runs scored on wild pitches and another scored on an error.

“The mental letdowns are what have plagued us throughout the year — giving teams an extra out in an inning,” Atkinson said. “Today our pitchers threw strikes. They had very few walks. The other teams just got some crucial base hits.”

Union County got within 9-4 after a two-run fourth inning, but Pendleton put up two more runs in the seventh to stretch the lead.

UC looked as if it was about to rally in the bottom of the seventh when Williams roped an RBI single to make it 11-5. But Union County stranded runners on base to end the day.

Wade Rynearson took the loss after going 3-2/3 innings and striking out two. Dubray struck out three in relief. Jayce Leonard finished 4-for-4 at the plate with an RBI and was named Union County’s player of the game.

Williams went 2-for-4 with a couple of RBIs, while both Bryant Gerdes and Chance Fredrick had one hit.

In the morning contest against The Dalles, UC fell into an early hole and never could recover.

Gerdes had two hits and a pair of RBIs. Atkinson scored three runs and Caleb Lathrop scored twice.

“They really wanted to get at least one today,” Coach Atkinson said. “Fundamentally, athletically I think they can play with anybody. They just have to figure out a way to make the routine plays, and let the great plays happen.”

Union County faces Tualatin Hills Mavericks at 11 a.m. today and Tualatin Hills Mound Time at 2 p.m. Atkinson said Union County will need to win both to have a realistic chance of continuing on in the tournament.

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