The Union/Cove Bobcats baseball team has made strides in its effort to rebuild from a rough stretch that saw it win only four games over three years. The team has already matched its win total from a year ago, and hung with Dufur/South Wasco County in a doubleheader Monday in Union.

The Bobcats, though, suffered a pair of tough-to-take last-inning losses, falling 4-3 in the opener of Monday’s doubleheader and 5-4 in the nightcap.

“We’re getting there,” head coach Jon Reynolds said. “At this point last year, we didn’t have a chance to even do that. And we’ve been (close) in all the games (except for two). Our pitching is the biggest difference. We’re throwing strikes, we’re playing defense, now we just have to start hitting the ball. We have to score more runs.”

The Bobcats entered the bottom of the seventh of the opening game trailing 4-1, but gave themselves a chance to pull even despite not getting a hit. Anthony Goodwater walked with one out, Levi Obendorf walked with two outs, and
Gannon Carreiro reached on an error to score Goodwater. D.J. Coon was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Keegan Glenn hit a grounder that was booted at second base to score Obendorf. Dufur, though, got out of the frame with the win when Carreiro was thrown out at home trying to also score on the error.

Reynolds, in hindsight, believed it was still the right move to send the runner in that scenario.

“You have to make them make a play,” the coach said. “He’s bobbling it at second base, the fastest guy on the team is rounding third, I’m sending him every time. I would rather make that gamble than see with two outs if the next guy is going to hit the ball. They just made a good play.”

Union/Cove’s other run came in the fourth inning on a Hunter Coon RBI single.

Carreiro allowed three runs on 10 hits in 4-2/3 innings, striking out four and walking three to keep the Bobcats close.

Game two was another nail-biter that Dufur stole late.

With the score tied at 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh, Russell
Peters of the Rangers, the designated home team in the nightcap, roped a one-out double and scored on a two-out single by Louis Red Cloud for the walk-off win.

“He was solid all game. He’s just a good ball player. He stepped up and hit the ball,” Reynolds said of Peters.

Peters made a key play in the top of the seventh as well with a diving catch of a Hunter Coon liner that prevented a double or triple.

The Bobcats took an early lead in game two, scoring in the first when D.J. Coon singled with one out, moved up on a wild pitch and scored on an error.

The Rangers scored twice off Glenn, the starting pitcher, in the first before the sophomore settled in. Glenn walked four batters in the first, but then he found the strike zone and command of his curveball. He went on to allow four runs on six hits, walk six and strike out nine batters in 5-1/3.

“I was a little tense the first
inning,” Glenn said. “I went back in the dugout between innings and told myself to relax a little bit. Went out there, quit thinking as much, pitched and it worked out.”

Union/Cove scored three times in the top of the third without a hit, taking advantage of three errors and three walks by Dufur pitcher Brock LaFaver. Errant throws by the pitcher allowed Carreiro and D.J. Coon to score, and a wild pitch let Glenn score for a 4-2 lead.

Dufur rebounded for two runs in the home half of the third, then the teams matched zeroes until the Rangers’ winning hit.

Union/Cove managed just three hits in the nightcap, two of which were by Glenn, who felt the team played well in spite of being swept.

“We got the loss, but it was two of the best games we probably played this year,” he said.

The Bobcats (3-5 overall, 1-4 Special District 7) travel to Stanfield/Echo for a doubleheader Saturday.