EPHRATA — Nick Lopez and Arcenio Martinez gave the Columbia Basin River Dogs the 1-2 punch they needed offensively. Joe Taylor and Ethan Etter came up with the play of the day on defense and the host team broke into the win column with 3-2 victory over Surry County from North Carolina in Sunday night’s late game at the Senior Babe Ruth World Series.
Lopez drove a waist-high fastball off the wall in left-center field to open the fifth inning with the score tied at 2-2. It was just about the same location as his solo home run in last year’s World Series, but the wind held this one up.
“I was just looking for something to drive to get things started,” Lopez said. “I’m not particularly fast, but when I saw Arcenio’s single go through I knew Coach would be waving me on, so I went hard to score.”
The run proved to be the game-winner. Martinez produced when it mattered and Lopez slid in under the tag.
On the defensive side, Surry County’s Jedd Kidd hit a roller to the left side that looked it might be trouble with runner Garrett Durham barreling down the line in the top half of the fifth inning. Durham had moved over to third base when River Dogs starter Jordan Rios threw it to the fence on a pick-off attempt and the Mudcats first baseman went all the way to third, representing the go-ahead run.
Kidd’s roller took a nice high hop and Taylor had the presence of mind to take it with the bare hand and the throw to Etter for the put out at the plate to snuff the Mudcats’ attempt to regain the lead.
“I practice bare-handing in practice all the time,” Taylor said. “It jumped up and I caught it and made the throw. Ethan did a nice job blocking the plate for the out.”
Rios provided a stellar performance on the mound, pitching six innings, giving up just two runs and scattering seven hits. The River Dogs played arguably their best game of the season defensively. There were several key moments, but none so key as Dakota Fingar’s diving catch on a line shot to center field to end the game.
The River Dogs (1-1) play Cape Cod (2-0) in the 8 p.m. game on Monday.
Charleston, Mo. 3, Columbia Basin River Dogs 1
The only thing that hit Charleston starter Trey McDaniel was the pitch count. McDaniel threw six no-hit innings, walking four and hitting a batter, before coming out in the seventh because he’d reached the 105-pitch limit.
The Columbia Basin River Dogs climbed all over reliever Austin Hicks. Duncan Favor reached when Hicks plunked the first batter faced and the River Dogs had the leadoff runner aboard in the top half of the seventh inning.
Nic Lopez broke up the no-hitter with Columbia Basin’s only hit. Favor and Lopez moved over on a wild pitch. Joey Mihelich drew walk to load the bases with one out to give the host team a tying run on first base.
Pinch hitter Arcenio Martinez moved a ball to the right side to drive in Favor to put the River Dogs on the board. But Hicks struck out Gage Gibson to end the game.
Rodney Harwood is a sports writer with the Columbia Basin Herald and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.