HEPPNER — Lance Thacker got on base six times and pitched a four-hit complete game to lead Weston-McEwen to a split with Heppner Saturday in Special District 6 baseball.
A three-run sixth did the TigerScots in in the opener, as the Mustangs broke open a 4-4 tie on the power of one hit, two walks and two errors en route to a 7-5 win.
But Weston-McEwen rebounded in the nightcap behind the pitching of Thacker, who struckout six and walked none, as the TigerScots saved a split, 8-2.
That win may turn out to be critical with the postseason rapidly approaching.
The TigerScots (14-9, 8-4 SD6) are in third place in league behind Dufur (13-8, 9-3), which they visit for a twin bill Saturday — their last games of the regular season. And Weston-McEwen holds a one-game advantage over fourth-place Pilot Rock (10-11, 7-5).
The top five teams make it to the district playoffs, with the No. 1 seed, likely Stanfield, taking a bye until the championship game, slated for May 18, and an automatic bid to the state playoffs. The No. 2 and 3 seeds play a playoff game May 14 and the winner of that game earns a state bid and a single game against the No. 1 seed for the district’s top seed to state.
The 4- and 5-seeds play a loser-out game May 18, and the winner of that game takes on the loser of the 2-3 game on the same day for the league’s third and final seed to state.
Should W-M sweep Dufur Saturday, the TigerScots will have assured themselves of second place in districts and will only have to win one game to get to state. If they split, however, the TigerScots could fall into a tie for third place and may even end up a 4-seed depending on Pilot Rock and tie breakers.
W-M took a 4-2 lead in the first game Saturday after scoring three runs in the fourth inning on RBI singles from Cedric Ball, Baumann and Thacker.
But Heppner answered with a run in the bottom of the inning and knotted the game at 4 with a sac-bunt in the fifth.
After Heppner blew the game open in the sixth, Hall hit a lead-off homer in the W-M seventh to pull the TigerScots within two. W-M got the tying runs aboard with no outs as Thacker and Croswell each singled, but three straight outs ended the W-M threat.
“We hit the ball well,” W-M coach T.J. Haguewood said. “We really hit it well up and down the lineup, but we didn’t get as many runs as we would have liked. Defensively, defensive lapses have been hurting us and that’s what hurt us in that first game.”
Weston-McEwen opened the nightcap with three runs in the first, but didn’t score again until notching a single run in the fourth to take a 4-2 lead.
Heppner pushed across runs in the first and second, but managed just one hit for the remainder of the game.
“Lance Thacker did well again today,” Haguewood said. “In that second game we had four errors again, but Lance got us out of them.”
The TigerScots got their first four batters on base in the seventh and all four scored to put the nail in Heppner’s coffin and take the split.
“We’re still battling,” Haguewood said. “We’re just going through a tough phase right now, but we did well in that second game and hopefully we’re on the right note.”
The TigerScots take on Dufur at 11 a.m.
W-M 010 300 1 — 5 12 4
Heppner 110 113 X — 7 8 1
Burke, White (6) and Hall. Putman and Hatfield.
HR — W-M: Hall.
Hits — W-M: Hall 2, L. Thacker 3, Croswell 2, White, Burke, Ball 2, Baumann; Heppner” Bailey 2, Irons 3, Orr, Hatfield, Wright.
Heppner 110 000 0 — 2 4 2
W-M 300 104 X — 8 7 4
Rill, Thompson (6) and Hatfield. L. Thacker and Hall.
Hits — Heppner: Kindle, Irons, Hatfield, Smith; W-M: Hall 2, L. Thacker, Patrick 2, Burke, Baumann.