KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — It’s one thing to hit a walk-off in one’s lifetime, let alone in a year. On Saturday, Klamath Union’s Joe Whisler hit walk-off singles in back-to-back games to help his Pelicans to much-needed Skyline Conference victories over North Valley.
While it wasn’t without some help – from his teammates and North Valley mistakes – Whisler was able to send an 0-2 pitch from Stephen Parker into left field to score Payton Poe from third for a 5-4 victory in game one. In the second contest, Eric Montgomery stood on second when Whisler smacked the 2-0 pitch over the head of North Valley leftfielder Tyler Heath to seal an 8-7 win.
Whisler’s second walk-off hit/960 the Sports Legend
The wins stopped a mid-season swoon for Klamath Union (12-9; 8-4 Skyline Conference), which entered the games Saturday losers in four of its last five. Now, KU is on pace with Skyline leaders Henley and Hidden Valley for one of the three automatic OSAA postseason spots. The Pelicans also have season series victories clinched over four of the other five teams, Hidden Valley being the exception.
Klamath Union senior Joe Whisler/Bi-Mart Baseball Game of the Week postgame show
North Valley took the lead 4-3 in the top of the seventh inning when Marco Garmendia was brought home on a Parker double. Those two combined for five hits and two RBI for the Knights in the opening game.
Two of the first three batters were retired for KU in the bottom half, with Trenton McGahan getting on base with a single. Payton Poe concluded a 2 for 2 performance with his second walk of the game, moving McGahan to second base. The next batter was Jack Bell, who popped the 1-0 pitch to second base where North Valley’s Kevin Olmstead failed to make the catch, perhaps losing it in the sun, allowing McGahan to score and tie the game. Whisler then scored Poe from third.
Trailing 7-3 in game two, KU put out North Valley (14-9; 6-6) in order in the top of the seventh. In the bottom half, Hunter Bradford, off a 4 for 4 plate performance in game one, forced a walk before Nick Bell flied out. Then more mistakes helped Klamath Union.
Branden Tron and Patrick Budden both reached on errors before Montgomery drew a walk, scoring Bradford. Kyle Odesha struck out before J. Bell scored two more runs on his single to set the table for Whisler’s repeat walk-off.
In the doubleheader, Whisler had a total of three hits, two of which closed out wins.
Klamath Union faces Mazama on Tuesday at Leo Bocchi Field (4:30 p.m. – 960 the Sports Legend). Mazama’s 13-12 win over North Valley combined with KU’s sweep makes the Knights 2-6 in their last eight games. North Valley hosts Hidden Valley on Tuesday.