By GERRY STEELE
Of the Baker City Herald
Baker wasted several scoring chances in its opening Greater Oregon League baseball game at La Grande Friday, and had to settle for a split in the doubleheader.
La Grande rallied with a run in the bottom of the ninth inning to win the first game 6-5. Baker bounced back to gain the split with an 11-6 win in the nightcap.
We had our chances, said Baker coach Alan McCauley.
Baker trailed 4-2 entering the seventh inning of the opener. The Bulldogs then scored three runs to take a 5-4 edge into the bottom of the inning.
With one out, Dan Justus was hit by a pitch, and Steve Valentine and Justin Merritt walked to load the bases. Brian Baker drove in two runs with a single, and Luke Palmer one with a sacrifice fly.
Greg Goodenough followed with a double, but Baker was cut down at the plate for the final out.
La Grande then sent the game into extra innings when Preston Roe laced a two-out single to center field in the bottom of the inning, tying the game at 5.
Baker had chances to regain the lead in both the eighth and ninth innings, but La Grande turned double plays in both cases to snuff the rallies.
La Grande then got runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the ninth before Roe came through again. Roe, who finished the game with five hits, rapped another single to center to plate the winning run.
Baker finished the game with three hits and three RBIs. Merritt and Chris Price each added two hits.
Wes Cooke took the loss in relief of Palmer.
In the second game, Baker fell behind 2-0 after one inning.
The Bulldogs then used RBI hits by Valentine and Justus to tie the game in the second.
Baker took the lead for good with six runs in the top of the sixth.
Walks to Pat Taylor, Justus and Valentine loaded the bases with one out. Merritt and Baker followed with RBI singles, and Palmer added a sacrifice fly. Then, after Goodenough walked to reload the bases, Price cleared them with a three-run double.
The Bulldogs added three insurance runs in the seventh.
Valentine and Goodenough had RBI singles in the inning, and Matt Mahoney a sacrifice fly.
Cooke earned the win, and Valentine the save.
Baker will host No. 1 ranked Grant Union in a key GOL doubleheader Saturday at the Baker Sports Complex.
This split just makes the Grant Union games that much more important, McCauley said.
Saturday, the Bulldogs hammered Fruitland, Idaho, 23-7 in a non-league game at Fruitland.
Baker exploded for 10 runs in the seventh inning to make the game a rout.
In the seventh, Goodenough slugged a three-run home run, Price a two-run single, Valentine a two-run double, and Merritt, Cooke and Bjorn Boyer RBI singles.
Justus two-run single got Baker rolling in the second. Goodenough and Taylor had two RBIs each in the third to boost the lead to 6-0.
Goodenough and Taylor each added another RBI in the fourth, and Cooke chipped in a two-run double, and Palmer and Justus one RBI each in the sixth.
Goodenough finished with two doubles, a homer, and six RBIs. Taylor, Price, Cooke and Merritt each added three hits. Taylor, Cooke and Justus added three RBIs each.
Boyer got the win with relief help from Valentine.
Baker 1 0 0 0 0 1 3 0 0 5
LG 0 2 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 6
Palmer, Cooke (9) and Goodenough. Ingerson, Fischer (7), Royal (8) and Slover. WP Royal. LP Cooke.
Baker hits Valentine, Merritt 2, Baker 3, Goodenough, Price 2, Taylor, Cooke. La Grande hits Roe 5, Thomas 2, Smith 2, Abel, Mellinger.
Baker RBI Baker 3, Price, Palmer. La Grande RBI Roe 3, Thomas, Abel.
2B Baker, Goodenough. 3B Mellinger.
Baker 0 2 0 0 0 6 3 11
La Grande 2 0 0 0 0 4 0 6
Cooke, Valentine (7) and Goodenough. Royal, Thomas (6) and Slover. WP Cooke. LP Thomas. S Valentine.
Baker hits Valentine 4, Merritt, Baker 3, Palmer, Goodenough, Price 2, Taylor, Cooke, Justus 2. La Grande hits Roe 2, Thomas 2, Abel 2, Van Sickle, Smith, Mellinger, Slover, Searles.
Baker RBI Valentine 2, Merritt, Mahoney, Baker, Palmer, Goodenough, Price 3, Justus. La Grande RBI Roe 2, Smith 2, Abel, Slover.
2B Valentine, Price, Roe, Mellinger, Slover. 3B Price.
Baker 0 2 4 3 0 4 10 23
Fruitland 0 0 0 4 3 0 0 7
Boyer, Valentine (5) and Goodenough. Smith, Sutton (6), Turner (7) and Solis. WP Boyer. LP Smith.
Baker hits Valentine, Mahoney, Merritt 3, Price 3, Goodenough 3, Taylor 3, Boyer, Cooke 3, Justus.
Baker RBI Valentine 2, Merritt, Price 2, Goodenough 6, Taylor 3, Palmer, Boyer, Cooke 3, Justus 3.
2B Valentine, Merritt, Price, Goodenough 2, Cooke. HR Goodenough.