The integrated Wallowa Valley/Elgin baseball team swept in an away doubleheader against a united Burns/Crane crew on Friday, April 5. Coach JR Collier said the game was won by stellar pitching and consistent, if not overwhelming offense, particularly by brothers Gus and Zeb Ramsden.
Wallowa Valley blazed past Burns in the opener, outscoring their opponent 4-1 behind the pitching of Coy Aschenbrenner, who struck out one and walked three through 4 innings. Trace Evans came in for the save, pitching the final three innings with three strikeouts and no walks.
“Our pitchers are good at hitting their spots,” Collier said. “When hitters put the ball in play, our pitchers trust their defenders behind them.”
The team scored runs in the first, second, fifth and seventh innings for the win.
The two brothers, Gus and Zeb Ramsden, led the team with the bats. Each brother went 2 for 5 at the plate, and Gus Ramsden garnered three steals throughout the contest.
“When we get runners on base, we tend to move them around to score,” Collier said. “It wasn’t a huge offensive production, but it was enough.”
The run in the first inning came when the two brothers--Gus Ramsden leading off and his brother following suit--each knocked a base hit. After Gus Ramsden’s jump-start base hit, he then managed to steal his way to third with a base hit by his brother that brought him home. Gus Ramsden later scored a run in the fifth inning after a base hit and a stolen base. A subsequent error finally drove him home in the fifth. Later he would launch a triple, leading to a score soon afterward giving Wallowa Valley the final run.
“The weather was terrible,” Collier said. “A lot of the hits we had would have been bigger if the wind hadn’t been blowing in.”
The bottom end of the bill saw Wallowa Valley prevailing 8-6.
“Game two was pretty similar if you subtract the last inning,” Collier said with a laugh. “They scored five of their runs in the last inning.”
The local boys kept their offense consistent with a run in the third, four more in the fourth and three in the final frame. The game was rife with errors, particularly on the part of Burns. The fifth inning saw David Salim reach base on a walk then make his way to third before another hitter drove him home. The next several hitters reached base on errors with the brothers Ramsden eventually clearing the bases with a double and single respectively.
The final inning saw Christopher Nobles hit by a pitch then advanced along with an Aschenbrenner single and Salim double. Malachi Roberts did his share cleaning up the bases with his turn at bat following.
“We strung together offense at the right time to be able to put on a series of runs, which is nice,” Collier said.
Evans scorched his way through six innings with five strikeouts and one walk. His relief was not so fortunate, and after a rain delay, Evans returned to the mound to close the contest.
Although Collier is pleased with the team’s performance thus far, he’s not complacent.
“We have to be sure to keep up the momentum,” he said. “What’s encouraging is that our pitching held up pretty solid and defense is pretty solid. You can’t afford to drop a series in this league because winning league is what best sets you up for playoffs.”
The squad is now 2-0 in league play and 6-1 overall. OSAA ranks Wallowa Valley fifth in the state. They next host 15th ranked Vale for their home opener on April 12.