The Eagles spent spring break down in Arizona for their annual appearance at the Coach Bob Invitational, and while the trip wasn’t successful in terms of wins — HRV went 1-3, including a frustrating 8-6 loss to tournament champion Boulder Creek (Arizona) that was cut short by lightning — Head Coach Erich Harjo said it was good for team chemistry.
“That trip becomes more and more about camaraderie and being with your teammates for a week,” he noted.
The one game they did win happened to be against an Oregon team — an ideal situation when it comes to HRV’s 5A ranking. That came on March 29 against the 6A Lake Oswego Lakers (2-8), whom they defeated 9-3.
The Eagles (6-5) returned home this week and kept up their solid record against Oregon teams with an 11-4 pasting of 6A Tualatin (2-4-1) on Monday and skating by Bend (6-4) 5-4 on Wednesday. Both games were on the road.
HRV kept the Tualatin Timberwolves at bay all seven innings thanks in large part to the one-man wrecking crew of Connor Coerper. He nearly hit for the cycle in the game, going 3-for-5 on a single, double, and triple, racking up a team-high five RBIs and scoring two runs. Coerper was as productive on the mound as he was at the dish, accruing a season-high 12 strikeouts and surrendering just three hits, four walks, and two earned runs before he was given a well-deserved rest at the end of the fifth inning. JJ Mears relieved him, striking out two, while giving up four hits and two earned runs. All of Tualatin’s runs came towards the end of the game after HRV had built an 11-0 advantage.
Harjo said Coerper “bullied those Tualatin hitters with their fastball” and has been “swinging at hot bat” this season.
“He was just on,” he said. “He had a great approach to the game. Really respected the game plan.”
Coerper wasn’t the only productive Eagle on offense Monday Trevor Lariza (3-for-3, singles), Caden Leiblein (2-for-3, single, double, three RBI), Morgan Williams (2-for-2, singles, RBI), Isaiah Enriquez (2-for-5, single, double) Greyson Losee (1-for-3, single), Adam Cameron (1-for-2, double, RBI), and Trenton Hough (1-for-2, single) all contributed to HRV’s 15 hits.
The game at Bend wasn’t as quite of a cakewalk as the Tualatin outing, however. It did start out similar, with HRV surging to a 3-0 lead in the first inning after Lariza (1-for-3, two RBI) hit a two-RBI single that plated Cameron(1-for-3, double) and Coerper(1-for-4, single, RBI), followed by Leiblein(1-for-4, single, RBI) advancing on a bases-loaded walk of Lucas Vuhkola.
The Lava Bears answered in the bottom of the same inning, scoring on an error and a sacrifice fly to pull within a run. HRV’s offense stalled in the second, and Bend strung some singles together to put runners on bases, scoring two of them to go ahead 4-3 at the end of the second.
“We knew it was going to be a pretty competitive game,” Harjo said.
The Eagles got the equalizer in the fourth, when Cameron, who hit a double on a line drive to right earlier in the inning, scored thanks to a grounder single hit to the same area by Coerper. They regained their lead in the fifth after a series of walks was capped by a sac fly from Leiblein that scored Enriquez.
HRV’s defense was able to hold off Bend for the rest of the game and the Eagles were able to grab the “W” despite committing four errors (Bend had none) and allowing the Lava Bears to outhit them 10-5. Enriquez started the game on the mound for HRV, pitching five innings (four strikeouts, eight hits, four earned runs), but it was Losee who got the win, closing out the game with a strikeout, two hits, and two walks.
The road-weary Eagles return home this Saturday with two games: a 10 a.m. contest against Prairie and a 5:30 p.m. meeting with Heritage, both from Washington. That will be the end of nonleague games for HRV; the league schedule starts April 15 with a doubleheader against Hermiston (4-5), beginning at noon in Hood River.
“This Saturday, we’re fired up to be home,” Harjo admitted. “It takes a lot out of you when you’re on the road so much, being on the bus, not having the normal routine. It helps you develop a little more grit, some toughness about you — it makes playing at home that much more special.”