Going through the struggles of a season-high four-game losing streak, the Columbia Gorge ‘AAA’ Hustlers got back on the winning track with an 8-5 win over the Tri-County Outlaws Tuesday in American Legion Post 19 baseball action at Quinton Street Ballpark.
“Mentally, it is huge to bounce back from that, get back in the winning column and get something positive to happen,” said assistant coach Pat Clark. “We need it going into the state tournament as a stepping-stone to get better.”
The Hustlers got a home run from Lucas Denney and pounded out nine hits, using a three-run surge in the bottom of the seventh frame to break open a 5-all tie.
In the seventh, Austin Wilson and Justin Sugg led off with walks.
Beaux Watt then laid down a sacrifice bunt, but he reached safely and Wilson scored after a throw sailed to right field.
Up 6-5, the Hustlers had Sugg at third and Watt at second base for Connor Mathisen.
The lefty stroked an RBI single to right, chasing home Sugg to make it a 7-5 lead.
Still with no outs in the inning and runners on the corners, Denney drove in Watt on an RBI sacrifice fly to move the Hustlers in front, 8-5.
Staked to that three-run cushion, Hustler reliever Dakota Walker faced a bases-loaded, two-out jam.
Walker induced the inning-ending flyout to right to restore order.
Wilson entered in the top of the ninth inning and shut down Tri-County, the last two outs coming on a 6-4-3 double play.
“We came out focused and prepared today and just played our game,” Wilson said. “We were not all lackadaisical. We were ready to hit and put some runs on the board.”
Denney paced the Hustler offense with a 2 for 3 effort, while adding two RBIs and two runs.
Mathisen added two hits, an RBI and a run, Wilson went 2 for 3 with a walk, a stolen base, two runs and an RBI.
Clay Copper had a hit, scored a run and drove in another.
Walker picked up the win, as he tossed three innings of three-hit ball with four walks, a strikeout and a hit batter.
Now with that winning formula in place, Copper is hopeful that the trend continues for the next three doubleheaders and a tourney in time for state on July 31.
“It is just keeping our focus,” Copper said. “We are halfway through the summer and we are getting hot and tired. We have to keep our heads up and keep working hard. We need to have the confidence to go out on the field and win.”
The Hustlers next travel to Wilsonville for a three-day tournament starting Friday.