American Legion baseball is underway, and the Columbia Gorge ‘AAA’ Hustlers kicked off their home and season opener with a split with NW Star Knights Friday at Quinton Street Ballpark in The Dalles.
In Game 1, Steven Bartells and Colin Noonan slammed three hits apiece, and the Hustlers used a two-out, walk-off RBI single off the bat of Zachary Keimig for a 6-5 victory.
With the score knotted at 5-apiece in the bottom of the seventh inning, Nolan McCall started the rally with a single.
Clay Copper then reached after being hit by a pitch and Austin Wilson worked a four-pitch walk to load the bases with no outs.
It appeared as though this contest was on its way to extra innings, as the next two Hustler batters went down on strikes, but Keimig had other plans.
On the first pitch he saw, Keimig connected for a single to left field to bring in McCall with the game-winner.
In addition to his three hits, Bartells scored once and Noonan added a run scored and two RBIs.
McCall, Copper and Wilson also had a hit each, and both Copper and Wilson logged RBIs in the team’s 10-hit attack.
Clayton Ringer got the win in relief, as he tossed three innings of no-hit ball with three strikeouts and one walk.
Starter Dakota Walker lasted four innings and allowed four runs on five hits. He struck out two.
The nightcap could not be settled in the standard seven frames, but the NW Star Knights got a two-out single to center off Bartells, the Hustler reliever, to capture an 8-7 win in eight innings.
Early on, the Hustlers had their sticks on point with six runs in the first two frames to lead 6-2.
From the third inning on the Hustlers managed four hits, all singles and stranded seven, including the bases loaded in the third.
Noonan added two hits and two runs to his stat line, and the hot-hitting Bartells went 2 for 5 with a run and three RBIs.
Hustler newcomer Kellen Mathisen burst onto the scene with a single, a walk and three RBIs.
Colton Walker got the starting nod in the second game and lasted three innings.
The right-hander scattered four hits and two earned runs for the no-decision.
The Hustlers hit the diamond again in a road doubleheader on Tuesday starting at 3 p.m. against the Tri-County Outlaws.
After that, the American Legion group heads to Battleground for a wood bat contest versus Showtime on Wednesday.