Oilers aim for Div. 1 playoffs

Hood River’s Carson Oil-sponsored Oilers baseball team continued its summer schedule in the Oregon Junior State Baseball Association Division I league while focusing on its goal to qualify for the upcoming state playoffs starting July 25.

Despite a couple of recent setbacks, including a 5-0 road loss to Gladstone in their last game June 27, the Oilers remain as one of the top contenders in the 10-team Portland area league. The top three teams qualify for the playoffs.

Oilers at home

The Oilers will host the eight-team Firecracker Tourney July 5-8 at Traner Field

at HRVHS.

On Friday, the Oilers meet Scappoose at

9 a.m. and David Douglas at 7 p.m.

The Oilers, guided by head coach Adam Howell and Don Lariza, will have an excellent opportunity to solidify their position in the standings during the final two weeks of the regular season, with all 11 remaining games at home.

Howell, the Hood River Valley baseball junior varsity coach, is guiding the Oilers now in place of head coach Erich Harjo, who is on a temporary hiatus. “My expectations for the team is to reach the playoffs. That’s our goal and we’re hoping to be one of the top three teams at the end of the regular season. We’re in a very competitive league, but we’ll see how things go and hope for the best.”

In his June 25 debut, Howell nearly helped guide the Oilers to a come-from-behind home win over Gladstone. After falling behind 7-0 after two innings, the Oilers chipped away at the margin. Aided by a Gladstone error, the Oilers got on the scoreboard in the third on an RBI sacrifice fly by Patrick Harvey, making it 7-1.

“We came out a little rusty after having about five days off, so that’s probably why we had a slow start,” said Howell. “We weren’t ready to play right away and we made some defensive mistakes. One good thing about these guys is that they don’t panic after falling behind. They came back and gave themselves a chance to win and that’s all we could ask for.”

The comeback continued in the fourth, highlighted by Ryan Ward’s (2-for-4) RBI double to the centerfield fence, as the Oilers trimmed it to 7-3. Gladstone added a run in the top of the fifth, making it 8-3. The Oilers then sent 11 batters to the plate while facing four Gladstone pitchers and they erupted for six runs in the bottom half of the frame to take the lead.

Kellan Duffy (3-for-4) ignited the rally when he singled with a grounder up the middle, followed by Ward’s second double. They both scored on Dallas Buckley’s (1-for-2) RBI double. After Montana Kurahara walked and Willie Ishizaka (1-for-4, RBI) reached base on an error, the bases were loaded. Cole Osborn was then hit by a pitch to earn an RBI, making it 8-6. An RBI sacrifice fly by Alix Jimenez followed by a two RBI single by Brooks Maddy (1-for-2) putting the Oilers in front 9-8.

“Eventually, when the regular baseball season (at HRV) kicks off next year, I feel like I’ll have more of a leadership role on the team,” said Jimenez, an incoming HRV senior along with Olson. “I’m just trying to get used to playing on a team with lots of younger players. We have a real young squad that’s improving and we should have a pretty good team next year.”

Gladstone capitalized on Oiler miscues (walk, hit batter, error) to knot it 9-9 in the sixth and then pulled out a 10-9 victory with a run in the seventh. Pitcher A.J. Swalko silenced the Oiler bats as he worked the final two and one-third innings and allowed just one hit to help lead Gladstone to the win.

Olson, the Oilers’ starting pitcher, scattered seven hits, with two walks and four strikeouts in four innings pitched. Jimenez relieved Olson in the fifth and he struck out four, walked two and didn’t allow a hit and Duffy pitched the seventh inning. The Oilers had an impressive offensive attack as they outhit Gladstone 12-9.

“Whenever I get a chance to pitch, I just try to give it all I’ve got,” said Jimenez. “We were hitting pretty good, so I felt like we should’ve come up with the win. We have to learn to maintain our momentum throughout the entire game. We can’t just have one big inning and expect to win. We have to come out ready to hit the ball in every inning.”

The Oilers (5-3 league, 6-5 overall) played a 5 p.m. home contest Tuesday versus Scappoose, with results unavailable at the News press time.

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