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Making their breaks with defense

THE DALLES second baseman Payton Eaton gobbles up a ground ball hit his way during baseball action in The Dalles. Wednesday in Hillsboro, the No. 7-ranked Eagle Indians defeated Hillsboro, 2-1 in nine innings.

THE DALLES second baseman Payton Eaton gobbles up a ground ball hit his way during baseball action in The Dalles. Wednesday in Hillsboro, the No. 7-ranked Eagle Indians defeated Hillsboro, 2-1 in nine innings. Photo by Ray Rodriguez.

Since losing a pair of one-run games earlier this season to Marist and Bend, No. 7 The Dalles has proven the mantra that turnabout is fair play with back-to-back one-run victories of their own.

The first of those one-run wins came last Thursday at home versus 6A Century.

Wednesday, Clay Copper drove in Austin Wilson in the top of the ninth inning for the go-ahead tally and then Wilson slammed the door shut to preserve a 2-1 nine-inning triumph over the No. 22-ranked 6A Hillsboro Spartans in a non-league baseball contest at Hare Field in Hillsboro.

“An absolutely gutsy performance by all our guys tonight,” said TD head coach J.R. Runyon. “It was a very well-played game by both teams and an amazing pitchers’ duel. (It was) fun to be a part of and I look forward to more challenges like that as we move forward. Again a gutsy effort.”

Both teams played nip-and-tuck throughout, with the Eagle Indians taking a 1-0 lead in the fourth. Hillsboro eventually knotted the score at 1-apiece with a run in the bottom of the seventh.

With one out in the top of the ninth, Nolan McCall blasted a line drive to the wall in left center for a stand-up double. After a walk to Wilson, the Tribe was in business with Copper at the dish.

In his lengthy at-bat, McCall and Wilson executed a double steal to put runners in scoring position.

A passed ball appeared to give TD an opportunity to score the lead run, but McCall ended up being thrown out at the plate for the second out.

Not all was lost however, as Wilson stood in scoring position with Copper battling for a full count.

On the payoff pitch, Copper roped a line drive to right centerfield to drive in Wilson to make it a 2-1 game.

With a chance to pad the lead, the Eagle Indians loaded the bases on a walk by Zach Cantrell and an error on a ball hit by Payton Eaton.

The Hillsboro reliever settled in and retired the final batter of the inning to keep this battle close.

With three outs still left to record, Wilson hit the bump against the bottom half of the Hillsboro lineup.

The first batter Wilson faced rifled a shot to left field that went over Colin Noonan’s head.

Noonan scooped up the ball and fired a bullet to second base to Eaton, who laid down the tag for the first out.

After a flyout, Wilson walked the No. 9 hitter to set the stage for the Hillsboro leadoff hitter.

Wilson steadied under the pressure and induced a game-ending popup to preserve the win.

Just as been shown by this Tribe defense, they make the clutch putouts to help the pitching staff.

Noonan’s highlight was the tip of the iceberg.

Earlier in the game, while playing second base, Noonan snared a ball that was hit behind first base for an out.

In the second inning, Cantrell, TD’s right fielder, charged a ball and threw a strike home to Copper for the third out to keep the contest scoreless at the time.

Steven Bartells made a dazzling play at shortstop on a ball hit by Hillsboro’s cleanup hitter in no-man’s land in short left field to stifle a rally and McCall played his usual sterling defense at the hot corner, making stops on several slow rolling grounders.

Colton Walker pitched seven innings and scattered six hits and one unearned run. The righty struck out five and walked three.

Wilson tossed two innings of one-hit ball to pick up his second win of the season.

“Our defense made some amazing plays to complement our pitching performance,” Runyon added. “Our outfield did a great job of tracking down fly balls all game long and our guys stuck to it and kept competing and never gave in throughout the entire game.”

TD (6-2 overall) hosts 6A Glencoe (3-5) at noon, and then hits the field at 2 p.m. versus 6A David Douglas (4-3) for two games Saturday at Quinton Street Ballpark.

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