WALLA WALLA - Taylor Lemke faced a critical situation when he stepped up to the plate for the Wa-Hi Blue Devils in the bottom of the sixth inning Tuesday. With the bases loaded and two outs, he represented the tying run in a 8-4 game against cross-border rival Pendleton.
Six days earlier, Wa-Hi's Moe Handcox hit a three-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to take a 4-3 victory over visiing Kennewick.
So, although unlikely, a game-winning grand slam wasn't impossible.
But, instead of breaking out the rye bread and mustard, Lemke was left trudging to the Blue Devil dugout after his fly ball was gobbled up in center field like so many others had been on the sunny, blustery day at Murr Field.
Wa-Hi couldn't muster a hit in the seventh and ultimately fell to Pendleton by the same 8-4 margin.
The loss is just the second of the season for Wa-Hi (6-2) and, although it means nothing in terms of league standings, puts a slight tarnish on the No. 9 ranking recently bestowed on the Blue Devils by the Seattle Times.
But Pendleton (8-3 after the win) was no pushover. The Buckaroos, ranked No. 3 among Oregon 5A schools by the OSAA, opened the season with a 9-3 loss to Wa-Hi, but recovered to go on a five-game winning streak.
Pendleton blew the game open with a five-run third inning that saw five hits - including two doubles - and built a 7-4 Buckaroo lead.
Both Pendleton and Wa-Hi got shaky pitching from their starters.
Pendleton starting pitcher Tyler Stewart gave up four hits and five walks through three innings, but only gave up three earned and one unearned runs.
Wa-Hi's Spencer Locati emerged from the first inning without giving up a run, but the Bucks teed off on Locati for two runs in the second before running to a five-run third.
Taylor Lemke started the scoring for Wa-Hi when he singled to drive in Moe Handcox and Will Parnicky in the bottom of the first frame.
The Buckaroos answered with a pair of runs off a single and a Grant Klopmeyer triple in the top of the second to tie the game at two-all.
Reese Merriman led off the Pendleton third with a double. Lathan Alger advanced him to second with a sacrifice bunt and he scored on a double from Lane Richards.
Tommy Lane scored Richards with a single through the first-second base gap past a diving Josh Eggers.
Designated hitter Sean VanPelt followed with another single past a prostrated Eggers to set the Bucks up with runners at the corners.
Locati struck out Pendleton's Connor Johnson to earn the second out of the inning.
Klopmeyer, who finished with two RBIs on 2-of-3 chances at the plate, dropped a double into the right-center gap to earn drive in another score.
Ian Rivera hit another line drive past Eggers, who was again diving, to record an RBI and finish scoring for the half-inning.
Taylor Lemke took a pitch to the back to start the Wa-Hi third. He was followed by left fielder Luke Flippo, who struck out swinging, and Julian Zamora, who doubled to right.
Lemke scored on a wild pickoff attempt by Pendleton catcher Merriman while Zamora reached home on a 4-3 fielder's choice.
Cody Furstenburg walked to keep the Blue Devil rally going, but was caught stealing second to end the inning.
Locati's replacement, Daniel Lake, got through the fourth without giving up a run, but struggled with accuracy in the fifth. After three walks and a single with just one out to start the fifth, he was pulled in favor of Jarrod Needham.
Needham was more than efficient, throwing just three pitches in the fifth inning to record three outs and throwing 14 pitches total through 2 1/3 innings of work. He hit one batter and gave up a single.
Pendleton reliever Taylor Hillmick came in in the fourth and was also efficient, if unspectacular, through three innings.
The Blue Devils consistently made contact off Hillmick, but the only offense they could muster was a hit and three walks.
Wa-Hi next plays at Eisenhower Friday.
Pendleton 8, Wa-Hi 4
Pend 025 010 0 - 8 12 1
Wa-Hi 202 000 0 - 4 5 0
Stewart, Hillmick (4), O'Rourke (7) and Merriman; Locati, Lake (4), Needham (5) and Lemke.
HR - none.
Hits - Pendleton: Merriman 2, Richards 2, Lane, VanPelt, Johnson 3, Klopmeyer 2, Rivera; Wa-Hi: Handcox, Parkicky, Lemke, Zamora, Camacho.