Cowboys score 48 runs as they defeat Taft, Illinois Valley and Seaside on the way to title

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Diego Smith slides safely into home during the Cowboys' 18-9 victory over Taft Thursday afternoon. The Cowboys went 3-0 at the Madras Spring Break Tournament, winning the event.It was a great week for Cowboy baseball.

After struggling both at the plate and in the field at the Treasure Valley Invitational a week ago, the Cowboys played their best baseball of the season as they rolled to the championship of the Madras Spring Break Invitational.

"They played together well as a team," Crook County head coach Frank Martinez said of the Cowboys. "They played great. We hit the ball really hard and pitched well."

The Cowboys struggled early in the tournament against Class 3A Taft, spotting the Tigers five runs in the second inning before roaring back for an 18-9 win Thursday afternoon.

Friday was a different story as the Cowboys were in control from the outset in a 19-0 whipping of the Illinois Valley Cougars.

Then Saturday, Crook County looked strong again as they rolled past Seaside 11-1 to take the tournament title.

"The boys were definitely excited about winning the tournament," Martinez said. "I mean, we have never won a tournament. It gives us confidence going into league."

All five early runs that the Cowboys gave up Thursday afternoon against Taft were unearned as Crook County had five errors in the inning.

After spotting the Tigers the five early runs, Crook County battled their way back into the game, scoring four runs of their own in the top of the third inning.

The Cowboys might have scored even more runs in the inning except for a base running error midway through the rally.

With starting pitcher Kyle Knudtson shutting down the Tigers in the middle innings, the Cowboys were able to take control of the game.

Crook County added three more runs in the fourth inning to take the lead, then exploded for six runs in the top of the fifth inning to increase their lead to 13-5.

Once again, Crook County could have scored even more runs, except for another base running mistake in the fourth.

The Cowboys added another run in the sixth inning to increase their lead to 14-5.

A pair of Crook County errors in the bottom half of the sixth inning gave Taft a pair of baserunners with nobody out.

An error on a pickoff attempt moved the runners to second and third before a hard double off of Knudtson scored a pair of runs.

A second double scored a third run before Martinez finally pulled Knudtson with one out in the inning.

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Josh Norris gets a single during the game with Taft. Norris had four singles and two RBIs in the gameand had seven hits in the tourney. Relief pitcher Augustus Williams came in. Affter another Crook County error, he was able to strike out the final two batters of the inning without giving up an additional run.

Despite giving up eight runs, Knudtson pitched well, giving up just five hits and striking out five with two earned runs in his five and a third innings of work.

The Cowboys scored four insurance runs in the seventh inning and once again should have scored more as a base running mistake cost the team an additional run.

Taft scored one final run on a pair of singles and a Crook County error before the Cowboys were able to close the game out.

Crook County finished with 10 hits in the contest and added nine additional baserunners on walks. However, the Cowboys also committed 10 errors in the game.

Josh Norris went four for six from the plate with a pair of RBIs, while Brodie Connell was three for five with a double and six RBIs.

The win was especially impressive as Taft currently has an 8-2 record and is ranked second in Class 3A.

Unlike Thursday where errors made things difficult for the Cowboys, they were nearly error free the remainder of the tournament.

Friday, the Cowboys jumped all over the Cougars, scoring six runs in the bottom of the first inning and eight more in the second as they rolled out to a 14-0 lead.

The Cowboys added four more runs in the third and an additional run in the fourth, while four Cowboy pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter.

Devin Bishop pitched the first two innings, giving up a walk, while striking out three.

Diego Smith relieved Bishop to start the third inning and struck out two batters in one inning of work.

Carson Smith and Connell each also pitched an inning, as both struck out the side.

The Cowboys combined for nine hits in the contest, with Heath Pickhardt, Connell and Riley Forman each picking up a pair of hits in three at bats. Pickhardt blasted a double and a triple in the contest and drove in six RBIs, while Hunter Bishop also had a double.

The win put the Cowboys in the championship round against the Seagulls, who had defeated Illinois Valley 17-3 and Madras 7-4 to reach the finals.

Once again, the Cowboys took control early, scoring a pair of runs in the top of the first inning to take an early lead.

Crook County added five more runs in the third inning with the big hit of the inning coming on a three-run home run by Connell.

Seaside scored their lone run in the fourth inning, while Crook County responded with four more runs in the top of the fifth inning. For the second consecutive day, the game ended after five innings due to the 10-run rule.

Pickhardt pitched all five innings for the Cowboys, striking out seven, while allowing just four hits and three walks in the game.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys had seven hits in the game. Devin Wilson had a double while Norris had a triple.

With the victory, the Cowboys improved to 5-4 while Seaside fell to 4-4.

Crook County has now scored 76 runs in nine games, the second highest run total in class 4A.

The Cowboys are off until Friday when they travel to Estacada for the opening game of the Tri-Valley Conference season.

Estacada is currently 4-2 on the season and is ranked fourth in the current OSAA power rankings. Meanwhile, the Cowboys improved to 24 in the power rankings with the three wins.

"Our pitching and hitting was really dominant in the tournament," Martinez said. "I think our guys are ready for league. It starts Friday, so we will see what happens."

Crook County 18, Taft 9

At Madras Spring Break Tournament

Crook County 004 361 4 — 18 10 10

Taft 050 003 1 — 9 7 10

Crook County 9, Illinois Valley 0

At Madras Spring Break Tournament

Illinois Valley 000 00 — 0 0 6

Crook County 684 1x — 19 9 2

Crook County 11 Seaside 1

At Madras Spring Break Tournament

Crook County 05 04 — 11 7 1

Seaside 000 10 — 1 4 9

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