Mt. Hood baseball team bounces back from ugly Game 1 loss to earn walk-off win in the night-cap to split Wednesdays doubleheader (Mt. Hood 5-3, Lane 6-2)

by: SANDY POST: PARKER LEE - Mt. Hood CC catch Louis Wolf tags out a Lane runner at the plate during last weeks split with the Titans. The Mt. Hood Saints outpitched and outhit the Lane Community College baseball team in the front end of Wednesday’s doubleheader. What they did in the field completely negated what they did on the mound or at the plate.

Mt. Hood committed five errors and allowed six unearned runs as it suffered a 6-5 defeat. The Saints did bounce back to take the night-cap 3-2.

The biggest victim of Mt. Hood’s shaky defense in Game 1 was starting pitcher Joe Piercey. The sophomore lefty had all his pitches working and had the Titans off-balance for most of the afternoon. He struck out five batters in his seven innings of work, although he made his living by inducing ground balls. Lane had a couple hard-hit balls against Piercey in the first few innings, but he worked around them to keep the Titans off the scoreboard.

“Coming out of the preseason, we didn’t pitch consistently,” Mt. Hood coach Bryan Donohue said. “I was pleased with both starts and I felt like both guys put us in a good position. If we can continue to get quality starts, we will always have a chance to win.”

Piercey enjoyed a 3-0 lead entering the fifth inning, thanks to a three-run double by Nick Gawley in the bottom of the third. Piercey continued to do his job in the fifth, only to be betrayed by the defense behind him.

Lane’s Blake Montague led off the inning by sending a lazy line drive to Mt. Hood second baseman Conner Newell. Newell must have lost the ball in the setting sun because it popped out of his glove, despite being hit right at him. Monatgue was safely into first before Newell could recover.

A strikeout and a walk gave the Titans runners on first and second with one away. Lane’s Forrest Garcia slapped a hard bunt to the left side and the Saints’ only play was to first base, but first baseman Tommy Lane was still retreating to the bag when the throw came and it skipped off the top of his glove. Both base runners scored and Garcia dashed to second.

Mt. Hood catcher Louis Wolf made the team’s best defensive play of the game by diving for a ball that was bunted foul to record the second out. Tucker Campbell then hit a grounder to third baseman Logan Grindy that should have ended the inning, but Garcia crossed right in front of Grindy who lost track of the ball and couldn’t pick it cleanly. With runners on the corners, Campbell broke for second, deliberately early. He intentionally got caught in a rundown while Garcia stole home to tie the game 3-3.

The Saints took back the lead with RBI-singles by Gawley in the bottom of the fifth and Cole Hamilton in the seventh.

Joe Miller took the mound for Mt. Hood in the eighth and forced a groundout to start the inning. Campbell then singled, but Miller got Lane’s Spencer Smith to pound a one-hopper to Grindy at third that should have resulted in an inning-ending double play. The ball caromed off Grindy’s glove and everyone was safe. The Titans went on to score three runs in the inning to take a 6-5 lead. Mt. Hood did not produce another base runner and Lane took the victory.

“It was a simple post-game speech,” Donohue said. “We just have to make routine plays and we’ll be fine.”

Mt. Hood reversed roles in Game 2 and put pressure on the Lane defense. The Saints took a 2-2 tie into the bottom of the seventh where pinch-hitter Kody Matthews reached on an error. John Welborn, who went 3-for-4, then singled for the Saints and both runners moved up on a wild pitch. After Hamilton struck out swinging, Gawley came up with two outs. He shot a ground ball to Campbell at shortstop who threw it away, allowing Matthews to score the winning run.

“If you drop that first one of a doubleheader, you really feel like you have some momentum going into the next series if you can get that second one, so that win was huge for us,” Donohue said.

Mt. Hood starter Clint Burris allowed three hits and two runs in six innings before getting relieved by Evan Jones who threw a perfect seventh inning.

By earning a split of the doubleheader, the Saints also earned a split of the four-game series with the Titans. All four games were decided by one run.

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