Monday’s 1A Baseball: Tenino Drops District Opener in Extras Against La Center
By Jordan Nailon / firstname.lastname@example.org
CASTLE ROCK — Alex Bratton was overpowering the Wildcats for the first four innings here Monday before that pesky pitch count rule reared its ugly head and barked back at the Beavers.
Tenino held a 6-1 lead after three innings and led 6-3 after four frames but with 97 pitches already on the clicker Bratton’s day was over. To that point he’d struck out 10 La Center batters and allowed only four hits as the majority of the Wildcats lineup looked overmatched. In fact, only one of the four runs scored while he was on the bump were of the earned variety.
Still, the Beavers had to make a move on the mound and they called on freshman southpaw Abe Nelson.
The move did not pan out how the Beavers had intended.
“He’d thrown earlier in the year against us and looked really good,” noted La Center assistant coach Chico Chicks. “Our guys couldn’t sit back on him that day but they were chomping at the bit today.”
Nelson didn’t make it through the inning before Logan Brewer was called on to put out the fire. Brewer did a fine job, all things considered, but not before the Wildcats had picked up three runs to tie the game.
La Center added two runs in the sixth inning thanks to a pair of hits and an error. That left Tenino with just their final three outs while facing a two run deficit. With their backs to the wall the Beavers dialed up a do-or-die rally and tied the game when Bratton was drilled in the knee on a 3-2 count with the bases loaded. Nelson got the rally started by drawing a walk before Brewer and Dalton Chambers collected a pair of singles. An error on a ball hit by Jesse Perez allowed Nelson to score before Brewer came in on the hit by pitch.
Still, the Beavers left three runners on base in that inning and left 11 runners stranded in the game. That inability to bring runners home proved to be the Beavers’ undoing.
“It just kind of comes down to them executing better than us. I know we had guys in the seventh and eighth in scoring positions, we just couldn’t get it done,” said Tenino coach Ryan Schlesser. “It’s tough. I mean, Bratt threw well. Brewer threw well. We just didn’t make plays when we needed to and that’s the difference in the ballgame.”
Early in the game though, the Beavers had little trouble taking care of business on offense. They scored four runs in the first inning thanks to a couple hit batters and timely base knocks by Perez, Karl Hisaw and Blake Gubbe.
In the third inning Tenino added two more runs. Gubbe got things going with a single before working his way around to third and ultimately being balked home by the La Center pitcher. Then, after Cole Plaja and Nelson singled, Plaja was brought home on a suicide squeeze bunt by Brewer.
Brewer got in on the action again in the fifth inning in a play that seemed like it would surely crystalize the momentum in Tenino’s dugout. Immediately after the Beavers had a would-be base stealer called out on a borderline batter’s interference call, Brewer clapped back by smacking a triple to left-centerfield. He wound up with a classic Little League home run when the throw from the outfield sailed well wide of third base.
“I thought we were going to take it. I mean, we played these guys last year in Districts and it was the same thing. We were up all game and then we blow a late lead. I thought it was going to be a reversal and some payback there but we didn’t quite get it,” lamented Schlesser.
Brewer, Hisaw, Gubbe, and Plaja all had multiple hits for the Beavers.
All of those hits went for naught, however, when the Wildcats put together a two-out rally in the eighth inning. The frame started with a hit batter but Brewer fielded the ensuing sac-bunt attempt seamlessly and started a 1-6-3 double play to quiet the La Center crowd.
After that high pressure double play Schlesser understandably let out a sigh of relief.
“I thought, hey, we’re good. We’re going to go out in the ninth inning and win this game but the middle of their lineup just hit the ball all day,” Schlesser said.
The next batter, though, was the starting pitcher for La Center, and he had intentions on bringing home the win one way or the other. Getting his way, Irving Alvarez sent a ball deep into left-centerfield for a double and then came home when Michael Goode singled to center.
After catching the first six innings Goode wound up the winning pitcher for his efforts.
Tenino will play Castle Rock on Tuesday at 4 p.m. in Castle Rock in a loser-out game. On Monday, Castle Rock lost 15-2 to Montesano.
“I told them you’ve got to have a short memory because we play tomorrow and if we lose we’re done,” Schlesser said of his postgame speech. “We don’t have time to throw ourselves a little pity party. We’ve got to go out tomorrow and get the job done and see if we can extend the season a little bit.”
At Castle Rock
WILDCATS 10, BEAVERS 9 (8 inn.)
Tenino 402 010 20 — 9 14 5
La Center 102 132 01 — 10 12 4
Batteries: Tenino — Alex Bratton, Abe Nelson (5), Logan Brewer (5) and Jesse Perez; La Center — Irving Alvarez, Michael Goode (7) and Goode and Mattson (7)