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Crook County is back in the playoff hunt after taking a pair of one-run road victories over The Dalles

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OEGONIAN - Carson Smith had five hits on Friday as the Cowboys won both ends of a doubleheader from The Dalles.The Crook County Cowboys worked their way back into playoff contention on Friday as they took a pair of close games from The Dalles.

On the road, and needing wins to stay in the playoff race, the Cowboys did just enough to win, edging the Riverhawks 6-5 in game one, then coming back to take the nightcap 7-6.

The wins give the Cowboys a 3-0 sweep of The Dalles, with all three games decided by just one run.

Kyle Knudtson pitched a complete game in the opener, striking out four, walking four and scattering 12 hits.

Meanwhile, four Riverhawk pitchers combined to strike out 11 Cowboys, while walking four and giving up just nine hits.

The Dalles jumped on top early, with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the first inning.

However, the Cowboys rebounded to take the lead with three runs in the third. Crook County added a run in the fifth and two more in the seventh as they took a seemingly insurmountable 6-2 lead into the bottom half of the seventh.

However, the Riverhawks rallied to score three runs in the seventh before the Cowboys were able to get the final out of the game.

Carson Smith, Garett Bernard and Knudtson were the offensive heroes for the Cowboys.

Smith was 3-for-4 at the plate with a double and an RBI.

Bernard went 2-for-4 with a triple and three RBIs, while Knudtson was 2-for-3 with an RBI.

Louis Duran and Diego Smith had the remaining two Crook County hits.

Game two was just as tight.

Crook County jumped on top with three runs in the first inning, then added another in the fourth to take a 4-0 lead.

However, The Dalles came roaring back with a pair of runs in the third and one in the fourth to close to within a run.

Both teams scored a run in the fifth.

Crook County added a sixth run in the top of the sixth, but once again, The Dalles came storming back, scoring a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game at 6-6.

The Cowboys found a way to score one final run in the top of the seventh, then held the Riverhawks scoreless in the bottom half of the inning as they survived to take the narrow victory.

Duran pitched the first five innings for the Cowboys, while Clayton Wilkens closed out the game.

Duran gave up four runs on six hits, while Wilkens gave up two runs on just one hit.

The Riverhawks used the same four pitchers in the second game that they did in the first, and the quartet once again struck out 11 Cowboy batters, while walking five and giving up 10 hits.

However, four Cowboys had multiple hits in the contest.

Hunter Bishop went 2-for-2 with a home run and pair of RBIs, while Knudtson and Carson Smith were both 2-for-3 with an RBI apiece.

Brody Connell also had a pair of hits, going 2-for-5 in the game.

Bernard and Trentyn Maryanski had the final two hits for the Cowboys.

With the pair of wins, the Cowboys improved to 12-10 overall and 6-5 in Intermountain Conference play, while The Dalles fell to 7-14 overall and 4-7 in league.

Redmond and Pendleton are currently tied for first in the conference with 7-2 league records, while Hood River Valley is alone in third place with a 7-4 league record.

With just three teams from the IMC qualifying for the state playoffs, the Cowboys still have no margin for error.

However, they do have the most favorable remaining schedule in the league.

Not only do the Cowboys play three of their final four contests at home, they control their own destiny.

Crook County hosts Hood River Valley today at 4:30 p.m. A win in that game would move the Cowboys into a tie for third with Hood River Valley, but more importantly would give Crook County the tiebreaker as the Cowboys and Eagles split in their previous two meetings.

Crook County will then host the Ridgeview Ravens (0-11, 0-17) in a doubleheader on Friday starting at 3 p.m.

Crook County closes out the regular season on Tuesday, May 14 when they travel to Redmond to take on the Panthers in a 4:30 p.m. start.

Game 1

Crook County 6, The Dalles 5

Crook County 003 010 2 — 6 9 1

The Dalles 200 000 3 — 5 12 0

Game 2

Crook County 7, The Dalles 6

Crook County 301 011 1 — 7 10 2

The Dalles 002 112 0 — 6 7 0

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