The Wallowa Valley/Elgin combined baseball team split their doubleheader against the Vale Vikings on April 12, winning the first, 6-5, but breaking down with a loss in the second, 12-2.
“It wasn’t one thing, it was everything,” Coach JR Collier said. “The pitching wasn’t great and the batting wasn’t great. It wasn’t a very good turnout.”
The first game went the full nine innings before the WVE eked out a victory. The first of two pitchers for WVE was Senior Coy Aschenbrenner who pitched five innings before yielding to sophomore Trace Evans as relief, earning the win.
“He’s got a heck of an arm,” Collier said of young Evans. “He’s a great pitcher, and being only a sophomore, he’ll go on to do great things. Coy pitched a great game as well.” Ultimately, Aschenbrenner struck out six while issuing just one walk while Evans fanned two and walked three.
Both Gus Ramsden and David Salim went 2 for 5 in the box while senior Christopher Nobles went 3 for 5 . “We had a pretty good offense,” Collier said. In a back forth battle the Vikings jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first, which WVE matched two innings later. After seven innings the game remained tied 4-4.
The Vikings scored a run in the top of the ninth, but the VWE answered with two runs and no outs in the bottom of the inning earning the victory.
“Overall it was a fighting game,” Collier said. “We suddenly decided to wake up in the ninth … It was a good one to win because it was so close-fought all the time,” Collier said.
Round two of the doubleheader tested the grit of both teams, combating rain, hail, snow and wind that particularly affected the hitting.
Still, WVE looked promising from the get-go, scoring two runs in the first, but then bats went silent. “We couldn’t get anything going,” Collier said. He added that no one had more than one hit.
Windy weather also had an impact, according to Collier. He said that Nobles hit a towering shot, only to be held up by the wind long enough for the center fielder to make the play. “When it came off his bat, it was whistling,” Collier said. “We had a few big hits like that.”
Salim started the game for WV, finishing out 3 2/3 innings before Evans came on in relief, followed by Gage McKay of Elgin High School.
“No one did poorly, but we gave up a lot of hits,” Collier said. “Our pitching was struggling and our hitting was struggling.”
On offense, Flynn Nave had a double, as did Salim in the fourth. Collier said nearly everyone got a hit but the team could not string them together for runs.
“We’ll be all right,” Collier said. “We’ll bounce back and come back strong.”
WVE is now 3-1 in league play and 7-2 overall. They find themselves sitting in the ninth slot in the 3A state rankings, according to OSAA. The team next plays Irrigon on Saturday, April 20.