EPHRATA — All week during practice before the Senior Babe Ruth World Series the Columbia Basin River Dogs worked on bunt situations and putting pressure on the opponents.
The work paid off with a 4-3 victory over Mount Olive, N.J. Wednesday night in extra innings. With the win, the Columbia Basin River Dogs (3-1) secured the No. 2 seed in American pool and will face National pool No. 3 Tucson, Ariz., Thursday night at 7:30 p.m.
The River Dogs put the pressure on the Marauders right away in the bottom half of the eighth pinch hitter Ethan Etter singled to lead off the inning, hitting out of the nine hole to get back to the to top of the order. Dakota Fingar, who had the big home run Monday, caught the Mount Olive defense by surprise with a perfectly placed bunt, again, keeping the pressure on the team from New Jersey.
Marauders relief pitcher walked Duncan Favor to load the bases with no outs and the night exploded with home team energy.
“We had a sac bunt on, but then we got ahead in the count,” Favor said. “We were able to see a couple more pitches. He ended up walking me because (when I square) and the bat’s right there they don’t want you to get the bunt down. But they don’t want to be all over the strike zone either.
“This is my first year with the River Dogs, and I just wanted to contribute. To get to the bracket is huge. We just need to support whoever’s pitching tomorrow night.”
River Dogs manager Randy Boruff couldn’t have asked for a better scenario than to have bases loaded with Joe Taylor at the plate.
“He’s having a huge tournament and seeing the ball extremely well,” Boruff said.
The Marauders went with left-hander Zachary Richardson to pitch to Fingar, then brought in Timothy Caufield to try and put the fire out. But the pressure mounted and Caufield ended up throwing it to the backstop and Etter strolled in to seal the deal and get the River Dogs that all-important second seed.
Had they lost, it would have set up the historic game with the Moses Lake River Dogs, who secured the No. 2 seed in the National pool the night before. This way both River Dog teams live to fight another day in Thursday night’s quarterfinals and should that historic bout come, it would be for the national championship.
“Tonight was about coming back from being down and continuing to put pressure on them,” said Taylor, who was on last year’s River Dog team that played for the World Series championship. “It’s just a baseball game, no matter what. It’s been fun and we’re not done yet.”
Thursday’s quarterfinals will feature the Moses Lake River Dogs vs. Cape Cod, Mass., in the 5 p.m. game and the Columbia Basin River Dogs will take on Tuscon in the late game.