May 17, 2001 11:00 pm

By C.J. Gish

Observer Staff Writer

If one word could describe Saturdays District 8-2A/1A baseball tournament it would be close.

From the Wapiti League champion Nyssa to fourth-seeded Pine-Eagle, no one will have the upper hand when the tournament starts at noon at Eastern Oregon Universitys Snowflake Field.

Joseph, Nyssa, Elgin and Pine-Eagle are all very capable of going to state, Elgin coach Gordy Simons said. No one team stands above them all.

The only automatic is that ninth-ranked Nyssa will advance to the state playoffs as either the districts No. 1 or No. 2 seed. If Nyssa (21-5) beats Pine-Eagle (9-9) in the tournament opener, the Bulldogs will own the top seed. If they lose, they will go as the No. 2 seed.

Nyssa beat Pine-Eagle 7-4, 4-3 in its season sweep over the Spartans.

In the 2:30 p.m. game, second-seeded Joseph (18-7) takes on third-seeded Elgin (10-6). The Eagles swept Elgin, the defending league champions, earlier in the season 6-1, 8-0.

Since that twin bill, Elgin has gone 6-2 in league games with its only losses coming Saturday at Nyssa 1-0 and 7-2.

Elgin is not a team we want to be flat against, Joseph coach Dave Schmidt said. We still have a lot of work to do. Weve played some good games, but weve been flat the last couple of weeks.

Were looking forward to playing Joseph, Simons said. There should be two, possibly three, great playoff games (Saturday).

If Nyssa loses the opener, Pine-Eagle will play the winner of the Elgin/Joseph game following the second game for the top state seed. Nyssa would enter the state playoffs as the No. 2 seed from the district.

Elgin won the district title last year with an 8-4 win over Pine-Eagle. Joseph fell to Nyssa 8-5 for the No. 2 state berth.