By Steve Tool
Wallowa County Chieftain
Wallowa Valley Eagles baseball squad went 1-1 in its league opening double-header at home against Vale April 6. Wallowa Valley won the opener 3-1 behind Chris Bathke’s stellar pitching.
The Enterprise High School senior gave up one earned run and struck out 15, that’s right, 15. He walked only one, scattering six hits over the duration.
Bathke proved his mettle in the fourth inning when the Vikings hit a leadoff double followed by a single. With runners on first and third and nobody out, Bathke struck out the side. The Eagles had only one error, matched by only one hit for the win.
Bathke scored in the first inning after he drew a walk, stole second and third and came home on a passed ball. The Eagles scored two more runs in the sixth after a Daniel De Lancey lead-off single. He stole second and a Bathke sacrifice bunt sent him to third.
With two outs, Wallowa’s Gus Ramsden got to second with a shortstop error, which also brought De Lancey home. Two consecutive wild pitches saw Ramsden in with the third run.
The second game saw the Eagles with more hits but less satisfactory results as they lost 9-3. The Vikings pounded Eagles pitchers for 13 hits, knocking two Eagles pitchers out of the box before Rylie Hayward came on in the sixth to stem the Viking tide, giving up three hits and no runs while striking out four.
Although the Eagles had three errors in the contest, they also tagged the Vikings with three double plays, including a spectacular diving catch by Bathke in center field that was followed by a lightning strike throw to first to double off the runner.
Freshman Flynn Nave and junior Coy Aschenbrenner led the hitting with identical 2 for 3 plate performances as well as an RBI each.
Noting that the Eastern Oregon League harbors four of the state’s top-10 3A teams, assistant coach Geoff Hayward said the Eagles take nothing for granted.
“This isn’t an easy league,” he said. “You have to be up for every game and take every team seriously.”
The Eagles are third in the Eastern Oregon League and ranked fifth in the state with a 1-1 league record and an 8-3 overall. They next play at home versus Irrigon on April 13.