Crook County baseball struggling to find its form in league play
The Crook County Cowboy baseball team went 1-2 last week, dropping a game on Tuesday, April 26, to Hood River Valley before splitting a doubleheader with Ridgeview on Friday, April 29.
Playing at home, the Cowboys were competitive for most of their game with Hood River Valley, before giving up nine runs in the top of the fifth inning of a 12-0 loss to the Eagles. Friday's first game was more of the same, as the Cowboys gave up eight runs in the third inning of a 12-5 loss to Ridgeview. However, Crook County came back in the nightcap to take a hard-fought 5-4 victory over the Ravens to close out the doubleheader.
Tyson Martinez started on the mound for the Cowboys against Hood River Valley, pitching three complete innings, giving up five hits and three runs, while striking out four.
Martinez was replaced on the mound in the fourth inning by Austin Vaughan, who held Hood River Valley scoreless in the inning. However, Vaughan struggled with control in the fifth inning, walking three and giving up four hits as the Eagles exploded for nine runs in the inning.
Meanwhile, Hood River Valley pitchers Mason Spellecy and Jordan Webber combined to pitch a no-hitter against the Cowboys. Spellecy pitched four innings, striking out six and not walking a batter, while Webber pitched one inning, striking out two and walking one.
The Cowboys had just three baserunners in the game. Logan Faust reached first in the second inning on an error, while Vaughan reached second base in the fourth inning, also on an error, and Mitch Warren walked in the fifth inning and stole second base before Ben Allen struck out to end the game.
In Friday's first game, the Cowboys also fell victim to one big inning.
After two scoreless innings, Ridgeview scored eight runs in the third, adding two more in the fourth to take control of the game. However, unlike Tuesday, the Cowboys roared back and scored five runs of their own in the bottom of the fifth. The comeback attempt stopped there, though, as Ridgeview added a run in the sixth and another in the seventh, while the Cowboys were unable to score again.
Crook County had nine hits to 11 for the Ravens. However, the Cowboys also walked nine batters and committed four errors in the game, while Ridgeview pitchers walked just one batter.
Tyis Yustat and Warren each had two hits in the game, including a double by Warren. Clayton Dill, Vaughan, Faust, Martinez and Allen had the five remaining Crook County hits.
Friday's second game was another story. Crook County scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning to take control of the game.
"We just came off of a big loss, so it was important to start fast," Martinez said of the four-run first inning. "We just need to start faster in the early innings, because it is hard to come from behind."
With one out in the inning, Warren singled to left. Vaughan then singled to center, moving Warren to third. After Vaughan stole second, Faust reached second on a two-base error, while both Warren and Vaughan scored. Martinez then doubled, scoring Faust, before a single by Dustin Wilson knocked in Martinez.
Ridgeview scored a run in the second and two runs in the third to close to within a run. However, the Cowboys added a run in the fifth. Vaughan ripped a triple to the fence in center field, then scored on a throwing error to third. That run turned out to be critical, as Ridgeview scored a run in the top of the seventh to once again pull to within a run.
Vaughan pitched two and two-thirds innings and gave up three runs on three hits, while Cody Knudtson pitched three and a third innings and gave up two hits and no runs. Martinez came in to pitch the seventh inning, walking one batter and giving up a single before striking out the final batter of the inning to preserve the win. Adding to the drama — because he had pitched on Tuesday, Martinez had just 25 pitches remaining on his weekly pitch count. It took all 25 pitches to finish the inning.
"It went great," Martinez said of his inning of work on Friday. "It was a tight situation and it was very big because Ridgeview is a top team in our league, so it is good to get a win."
Crook County had nine hits in the game to just five for Ridgeview. Martinez and Vaughan each had two hits, while Yustat, Warren, Faust, Wilson and Easton Perrin each had a single.
With the win, Crook County improved to 5-14 overall and 2-6 in league. Meanwhile, Hood River Valley is now solidly in first place in the Intermountain Conference with a 13-4 overall record and an 8-0 league record. Ridgeview is alone in third place in the IMC with an 11-6 overall record and a 4-4 league mark.
The Cowboys play at Ridgeview today, April 3, then are on the road again on Friday, May 6, for a doubleheader at The Dalles (3-15, 1-8).
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.