By GERRY STEELE
Baker maintained a firm grip on first place in the Greater Oregon League softball standings Friday.
The Bulldogs (5-1 in the GOL) swept La Grande 8-6 and 9-8 at La Grande.
"We played a couple of close games; a couple of big wins," said Baker coach Al McCauley.
"We hit the ball pretty well up and down the lineup. We got some good help from the bottom of our lineup."
In the opener, Baker took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
Jessi Stephens and DJ McCauley hit back-to-back singles with one out. Darion Grove then singled Stephens home.
After La Grande tied the game in the bottom of the inning, Baker took the lead for good with four runs in the top of the second inning.
With one out, Stephanie Shepherd singled. Then, after a second out, Tasha Nelson singled. Sierra Howerton then brought everyone home with a three-run home run.
Stephens followed with a double, and later scored on an RBI single by McCauley.
Then, leading 5-3, the Bulldogs added a pair of runs in the third inning.
With one out, Abi Smith singled and Nelson walked. Smith scored on a double by Howerton. The second run scored on a La Grande error.
La Grande then cut Baker's lead to 7-6 before the Bulldogs closed out the scoring with a single run in the seventh.
Taylor McAdams doubled and advanced to third on a Shepherd single. An out later, McAdams scored on another La Grande error.
Grove and McAdams each had three hits to lead the Bulldogs. Howerton, Stephens, McCauley and Shepherd each added two hits.
Howeton finished with four RBIs.
McCauley picked up the win in the pitching circle.
In Game 2, Stephens' two-run, two-out single in the top of the seventh gave the Bulldogs a come-from-behind win.
In the seventh, trailing 8-7 with two outs, Nelson reached base on an error and Howerton on a fielder's choice. Both runners then scored when Stephens' hit to left field glanced off the fielder's glove.
"Jessi's hit had enough backspin on it that when it tipped off the top of the fielder's glove it allowed both runs to score," McCauley said.
"It was a big win coming back with two outs in the seventh."
Baker had again taken a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Grove's RBI single plated McCauley who had doubled.
Baker went up 2-0 in the third. Howerton doubled and later scored on a McCauley sacrifice fly.
Baker then increased its lead to 6-0 with four runs in the top of the fourth.
Howerton and Grove did the damage, each hitting a two-run homer in the inning.
La Grande then answered with seven runs in the bottom of the inning to erase Baker's lead.
"They bunched some hits together and hit us with seven big runs," McCauley said.
Baker tied the game in the top of the fifth on a Nelson RBI single. But, La Grande again answered with a single run in the bottom of the sixth.
Howerton led Baker with three hits and two RBIs. Grove aded two hits and three RBIs.
Stephens, McCauley, Smith and Nelson each added two hits.
Howerton pitched the first 5-plus innings for the Bulldogs. McCauley came on with one out in the sixth, picking up the win in relief.
Baker returns to GOL action Friday with a doubleheader at Ontario.
1 - 8
La Grande 1
0 - 6
McCauley and Stephens. Walker and Tracy. WP - McCauley. LP -Walker.
Baker hits -Howerton 2, Stephens 2, McCauley 2, Grove 3, McAdams 3, Shepherd 2, Smith, Nelson. Baker RBI -Howerton 4, McCauley, Grove.
La Grande hits -Tracy 2, Comfort 2, Elliott, Walker, Blackman 2, Lawrence. La Grande RBI -Comfort 2, Walker, Blackman.
2B -Howerton, Stephens, Grove, McAdams, Tracy, Comfort, Walker. HR -Howerton, Blackman.
2 - 9
La Grande 0
0 - 8
Howerton, McCauley (6) and Stephens. Walker and Tracy. WP - McCauley. LP -Walker.
Baker hits -Howerton 3, Stephens 2, McCauley 2, Grove 2, McAdams, Freese, Smith 2, Nelson 2. Baker RBI -Howerton 2, Stephens 2, McCauley, Grove 3, Nelson.
La Grande hits -Tracy 3, Comfort, Elliott 2, Walker 2, Blackman 2, Kirkland, Humphreys. La Grande RBI -Tracy, Kirkland, Humphreys, Walker, Blackman.
2B -Howerton, Stephens, McCauley, Smith, Elliott, Walker, Blackman, Humphreys. HR -Howerton, Grove.