Miller vs. Schiller in a 3-2 thriller

Sandy secures a dramatic win in a pitcher's duel that is decided in the eighth inning by Chris Houle's single to right
by: Michael Cade, Sandy's Eugene Wright at bat for the Pioneers Friday, April 13.

Weather was beautiful through the first few innings at Friday's baseball matchup between Gresham and Sandy, but a few fans started to file out as rain began to fall early in the seventh inning.

Too bad for them, because they missed a dramatic finish.

Tied 2-2 at the end of seven innings, Sandy and Gresham went into gut-check mode in the eighth inning.

The Gophers struck some fear into the Pioneers when Tommy Heater stole second following a Pioneer error. That fear intensified when the Gophers' Mike Mehlhaff hit a ball to deep center field, but the blast went for nothing when Sandy's Eugene Wright made the catch.

Sandy didn't waste much time ending the game in its turn at the plate. Joey D'Aboy delivered a one-out single and scored two batters later on a single by Chris Houle to right field.

Houle was succinct and to the point when asked what was going through his head at that key juncture in the game.

'Absolutely nothing,' he said.

It was the second dramatic finish in a row for the Pioneers, who were coming off a heartbreaking loss to Hood River just a day earlier.

Gresham pitcher Joe Schiller - who knows Houle personally - was happy for his friend's success but clearly not thrilled with the heartbreaking loss.

'I know Chris, and I was kind of (upset) after he got that hit,' Schiller said. 'That happens in baseball. Eventually somebody's going to get a hit and win it.'

Schiller went the distance along with Sandy starter Ryan Miller. The duo combined for 12 strikeouts in the low-scoring showdown.

Miller, a transfer from Arizona, remarked that he's happy to be helping his new teammates play at a high level.

He added that the only real adjustment to playing ball for the Pioneers has been getting used to the scheduling quirks brought on by weather.

'Games here are rained out,' he said. 'I've never been rained out in my life.'

Miller also took time to praise Houle's late-game heroics.

'He's a great hitter,' Miller said of Houle. 'He definitely gets the job done when it's needed.'

Gresham's initial two scores came courtesy of base hits by Heater and Mehlhaff in the first inning for a brief 2-0 lead. Sandy tied the game in the bottom of the inning on a two-run double by Jordan Elliott.

Sandy now sits at 4-2 in conference play with 15 regular season games to go. The Pioneers are second to Central Catholic, which is 4-1.