PENDLETON - Clutch pitching, hitting and fielding helped lead the Wa-Hi baseball team to an opening-day 9-3 victory over crossborder rival Pendleton Tuesday.
Starter Luke Reardon and relievers Adam Mathews and Taylor Lemke combined for eight strikeouts and just one walk on the evening.
"Our pitching, for the first time out, was outstanding," Wa-Hi coach Keith Gradwohl said. "We walked only one in seven innings and combined for eight strikeouts. That's pretty good for a first-game outing."
Pendleton kept up with Wa-Hi's hit total as each team had 10, but the Buckaroos couldn't string the hits together to score runs.
"I think the big thing for us was only giving up one walk," Gradwohl said. "We had some clutch pitching and they struggled in that fifth (inning). They walked one and had an error. I think it's the fact that they (Wa-Hi's pitchers) threw strikes. We had a couple of key hits and they (Pendleton) didn't seem to come up with key hits when they needed it."
Neither team scored until Wa-Hi pushed across two runs in the top of the third, but Pendleton had base runners in the second and third innings.
The Bucks had runners on the corners after two hits to start the second inning, but Reardon locked down and struck out the side.
Wa-Hi answered with two runs after Blue Devil Josh Eggers reached second on an RBI double that scored Cody Furstenburg. Eggers, who had 13 steals last season as a pinch runner, advanced home after a throwing error on a pickoff attempt ended up in center field.
Pendleton again threatened in the bottom of the inning with two leadoff hits, but Reardon picked off a runner and got the next batter to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Neither team scored again until Wa-Hi broke the game open with a seven-run fifth inning. Center fielder Moe Handcox, who is still recovering from an elbow injury suffered last fall, nailed a two-RBI double to highlight the bombardment.
"We were really pleased with an opening day win," Gradwohl said. "Obvously (there were) some things to work on, but coming out of Pendleton with a win is always nice, they're a really good club."
Wa-Hi split a jamboree at Hanford Saturday. The Blue Devils lost their first three-inning game, 2-0, to Southridge and beat Sunnyside, 4-0, to end the day. Neither counted toward Wa-Hi's standings.
The Blue Devils host Hermiston for a doubleheader starting at noon on Saturday.
Wa-Hi 9, Pendleton 3
Wa-Hi 002 070 0 - 9 10 2
Pendleton 000 003 0 - 3 10 4
Reardon Mathews (4), Parnicky (7) and Lemke, Fulmer (6); Merrimon, R. O'Rourke (5) Stewart (6) and A. O'Rourke.
HR - Pend Klopmeyer.
Hits - Wa-Hi Handcox, Eggers 2, Lemke, Locati, Kamacho, Lake, Henderson, Furstenberg 2. Pend: Merrimon, Alger, Richards, Lane 2, Klopmeyer, Van Pelt, Stewart, Rivera, Johnson.