The start of Friday’s doubleheader between visiting Riverside and host Nyssa was delayed 30 minutes when the Pirates’ bus broke down on the 190-mile drive from Boardman.
Once the first game started, it was a typical baseball game. Brandon Vela pitched a gem for Nyssa and drove in three in the Bulldogs’ 13-3 win. Nyssa (6-15) also got four RBIs from Zack Kausler and strong defense in winning its second game in a row.
There was no way to predict what was about to happen in the second game…
Both coaches used the term, “buffoonery,” to describe it.
Nyssa won the seven-inning nightcap, 36-30. The 66 runs tied a 45-year-old Oregon record for most combined runs in a game.
The second game alone last almost four hours.
“It was unlike any game I had ever experienced,” said Riverside coach Tyler Davis.
“Not only have I not been a part of a game as wild as that; I don’t recall ever seeing anything like that,” said Nyssa coach Travis Sapp. “I would emphatically tell you it was not a fun game to be a part of.”
Nyssa scored 36 runs on only 10 hits. The Bulldogs had only 28 official at bats and struck out in 15 of them. They drew 31 walks, were hit by pitches seven times and stole 17 bases. Thirty-three (33) of their runs were driven in. They had one pitcher throw 108 pitches in 2.2 innings. Another threw 80 pitches in 2.1 innings. They made nine errors.
Riverside (5-13) scored 30 runs on 20 or so hits (the home and away books differ a bit). The Pirates batted better than .500 for the game and still lost. They stole 16 bases. They had eight doubles and a triple. They had a pitcher give up 11 earned runs in an inning. Another pitcher gave up just two hits and struck out nine over 3.2 innings, yet still yielded nine runs, six of them earned.
There were a total of 13 half innings. A team scored three or more runs in nine of them. Six times, a team scored six or more runs in a half inning.
How crazy is that?
Riverside scored nine runs in the top of the first inning to set the tone.
“We just beat them by 10, so we knew it was a game we were still in,” Sapp said. “I told the team to have good at bats like the previous game and be patient. There was plenty of time to fight back.”
Nyssa responded with 11 runs in the bottom half of the first inning.
“I knew our boys were gonna battle their butts off,” Sapp said.
Riverside put up six in the top of the second.
Nyssa scored four in the bottom half. The teams were tied at 15-15 after two innings.
Riverside tacked on eight runs to open the third inning.
Nyssa countered with 11 in its third trip to the plate.
The score stood 26-23 after three innings. If the game ended right there, the combined runs would have been the fifth highest in state history.
The game did not end right there, however. Riverside added seven more runs between the fourth and fifth innings to take a 30-26 lead to the bottom of the fifth.
“I couldn’t believe we had given up 30 runs, again,” Sapp said. “Vale absolutely obliterated the ball against us earlier in the season.” Nyssa lost that April 19 game, 31-16.
Nyssa plated one in the bottom of the fifth, but still trailed by three when it turned to sophomore Ramon Iniguez to hold down Riverside’s offense. Iniguez had not had a good game so far, either as the third baseman or at the plate.
“When I told him he was going to the mound he was determined to rectify his poor showing in other areas and compete on the bump,” Sapp said.
Iniguez threw two scoreless innings, giving up just one hit and no walks. He was the only pitcher, on either side, to throw at least one inning without giving up a run.
Riverside turned to a new pitcher itself in the sixth inning. After giving up 13 runs over six innings in the first game and now 27 runs over five innings in the second game, the Pirates had run out of arms. The pitcher summoned to start the sixth lasted just one-third of an inning. He gave up two hits, nine walks and nine earned runs.
Those runs put Nyssa on top for good and put both teams in the record book for most combined runs in a game. The 66 runs matched the 63-3 win Dufur had over Cascade Locks in 1977.
Vela, Kausler and Kody Van Meter were the hitting stars for Nyssa. The trio combined for six hits, 10 runs scored and 19 runs batted in. Sophomore Joe Zuniga added five runs scored, four RBIs and five steals.
Riley Lantis led the Riverside attack with four hits (three doubles), five runs scored and seven runs batted in. Will Killion added four hits of his own, with three runs and five batted in.
Riverside’s 30 runs set an Oregon record for most runs by a losing team.
“My team has two upper classmen and only four guys who have any baseball experience past little league, including four starters who have never played baseball prior to this season,” Davis noted. “It’s been an up and down year for us as we gain experience. With that said, I am extremely proud of how resilient my guys were and how hard they battled. We hit the ball well and outhit Nyssa for the game. We really struggled to throw strikes. We threw a lot of pitches, 291, for the game, and we started to run out of guys to put on the mound. In the end our experience and inability to throw strikes cost us, but I am very happy with our growth as ballplayers and how our guys are starting to pick up hitting and fielding.”
For Nyssa, the 36-30 win was another in a series of oddities in 2022. The Bulldogs started the season 0-9, won three in a row, then lost the next six before winning the last three.
“So far the season has been about as different as I could have expected it to be, honestly,” Sapp said. “We started the year off poorly, playing what I would say was very uninspired baseball. When league started we got a bit more locked in, but then we sort of hit a lull. I think our kids are still sort or remembering how to compete and how to fight for something after that Covid nightmare. The last year and half have been hard on our kids. Kids have moved on from some things and grew up a little too fast before they needed to, and high school sports got left behind a bit. I would say that is what I am seeing from our student athletes at Nyssa, especially the males. Regardless, we have a special group of young men as seniors that I have been blessed to be with for a long time and I am very excited to see how this week goes for us. Hopefully we can get into districts and make some noise in the post season tournaments. I’m really grateful to be back playing baseball again and to be the baseball coach at Nyssa High School.”
Riverside’s odyssey did not end with the double header loss, unfortunately.
“We got to hang out at the Nyssa ball field for an extra 3.5 hours as we waited for a bus to come get us,” Davis explained. “The Tex-Mex Express in Nyssa has some good burritos at 9pm!”
The bus broke down twice more on the ride home.
“We ended up back at the high school 23 hours after we left,” Davis said. “Needless to say, it was a long, long day.”