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The Bucks suffered a staggering defeat in both of their first two games against Vernonia

WOODBURN INDEPENDENT PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - St. Paul senior Rachel Vela pitched a complete game and was two-for-four with two runs scored and an RBI in the Bucks' 7-6 win over No. 8 Vernonia.

 After being outscored 24-2 in the team's first two games against the No. 8 Vernonia Loggers (7-3, 5-1 Special District 1), the St. Paul Buckaroos finished the week on a high note, defeating the Loggers 7-6 on Friday to stay in contention for a state playoff berth.

The Bucks (8-5, 4-4 SD1) are in a three-way tie for fourth place with Perrydale (6-4, 4-4) and Gaston (6-7, 4-4) in the Special District 1 standings, which carries the last automatic qualifying berth to the state tournament in May.

The win over Vernonia came after holding off a late charge by the Loggers. St. Paul uncorked four runs in the top of the fifth inning to take a 7-3 advantage, but the Loggers got one back in the bottom of the frame to make it a 7-4 going into the final two innings.

After a scoreless sixth, the Bucks needed only three outs to walk away with the win, but Vernonia would not make it easy.

The Loggers opened the bottom of the seventh inning with a double to right field, followed by a walk to bring the tying runner up to bat. Vernonia's Jordan Walters responded with a single to left field that brought both base runners home, while advancing to second on a defensive indifference call.

Joyce Everett moved to third on a follow-up single from teammate Tommi Ota, and it appeared as if the Loggers would pull off the victory.

But in the blink of an eye, it was all over. St. Paul starting pitcher induced the next three batters into pop outs, two of which went to shortstop junior Destiny Smith, while the final out was snagged in left field by senior Hailey Farrell.

Smith led the team offensively, going three-for-three with two runs scored and an RBI, while Rachel Vela was two-for-four with a pair of runs scored and an RBI of her own.

The Bucks were scheduled to return to action this week against Perrydale on Monday, followed by three straight against Nestucca on Tuesday and Friday.

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