first innings meant everything for Madras baseball during a quartet of critical games last week.
The White Buffalos took dominant leads against Crook County, leading to a pair of victories. Then Pendleton used the same tactic to sweep host Madras in a Saturday doubleheader.
Those losses to Pendleton realistically ends a three-year state playoff run for Madras. The Buffs were in the 3A playoffs in 2005 and 2006 and in the 5A last season, going 1-1 in each appearance.
Mathematically, Madras isn't out of the Intermountain Conference playoff chase as this week starts. In the loss column, the Buffs are four games behind both Summit and Mountain View, each tied for third place. Madras must win their final three games, all against teams in third place or higher.
"Yes, our backs are against the wall," Madras coach Stann Dmytryk said. "We're going to go out and play hard from the first pitch."
The final home game is Tuesday, May 6, against Summit. Madras finishes up the regular season by traveling to Mountain View on Thursday, May 8 (a day earlier than the original schedule). The Buffs also traveled to Bend on Tuesday, April 29 (played after press time).
Meanwhile, either Mountain View or Summit must lose the rest of its games this season. The Dalles-Wahtonka also needs to finish with a four-game losing streak.
Madras 11-14, Crook County 1-7: A day's delay didn't keep the Buffs from a big first inning of the opener against the Cowboys. Madras put together a nine-run first inning in Wednesday's game, postponed a day from the scheduled Tuesday, April 22, start due to rain.
Rodney Smith and Spencer Ellsbury started the scoring with two-run singles when they came up with the bases loaded. Darrell Ceciliani added a three-run triple. Albert Adams finished off the first with a two-run home run.
Two innings later, Ceciliani drilled a solo homer and Turner Gill had a run-scoring double to close out the scoring.
Madras didn't leave its bats at home a day later. The Buffs scored seven runs in the first two innings. Smith had a two-run single in the first.
An inning later, Gill pounded a three-run double after two bases-loaded walks forced in two runs. Madras also scored three runs in both the fourth and seventh. Smith had a run-scoring single in the fourth while Jake Prow hit a two-run double in the seventh.
"We hit the ball well all week," Dmytryk said.
Zach Quinn earned the victory with three scoreless innings, allowing two hits while striking out four.
Pendleton 13-11, Madras 8-5: The Buckaroos extended two winning streaks in sweeping the host Buffs on Saturday.
Pendleton improved its IMC winning streak to eight straight, all after being swept by Bend to open league play. The Buckaroos also remain the only IMC team Madras has yet to beat in league play.
"That's a very good team we played," Dmytryk said. "I expect them to be playing in the (5A) quarterfinals."
Pendleton continued its winning ways by jumping ahead quickly in both games using the same formula -- hitting homers in the first inning.
The Buckaroos blasted a pair of two-run shots off Martin Brown in the opener for a 4-0 lead. The visitors went on to score runs in all but the third inning.
"They like to hit the fastball," Dmytryk said. "We were getting our fastballs up in the zone and they were hitting it."
The Buffs attempted to counter with their own homers. Prow blasted a three-run shot in the third, a blast to right center. Ceciliani added a solo shot in the fifth, followed by Gill's run scoring single. Ceciliani also had an RBI single in the sixth. Albert Adams also hit a homer.
Pendleton continued its big hitting in the nightcap with a seven-run first off Buff ace Prow. The Buckaroos had two homers off Prow, including a three-run shot in the first.
Prow had the task of finishing off the first game and then starting the second game. The start was the worst outing of his solid career in allowing eight earned runs in less than two innings.
"That wasn't our plan at all," Dmytryk said. "We intended to start Jake in the second game, but the first game was becoming a home run derby."
The Buckaroos have roughed up many IMC pitchers in their winning streak. Pendleton is averaging more than 10 runs a game in winning eight straight (outscoring foes 85-35).
Sophomore Ryan Brunner pitched four shutout innings against Pendleton in the second game.
"Ryan was throwing curves around their knees. He showed what he can do against a good-hitting team," Dmytryk said.
The Buffs had five runs on 12 hits. Gill had a pair of doubles in three hits. Prow, Albert Adams and Josh Farrester added two hits each. Ethan Adams also had triple.