Prep Baseball: Dirtbags Start Season Undefeated to Claim Aaron Foote Memorial Title

By The Chronicle

HOQUIAM — Rural Baseball Inc. rolled through the competition here in Grays Harbor over the weekend on their way to their second Aaron Foote Memorial Tournament championship in the last three years.

The tournament was played at Olympic Stadium in Hoquiam as well as Ken Waite Field at Pioneer Park in Aberdeen. The Dirtbags started their run against Hoquiam at Olympic Stadium on Friday and then played their way back to the historic wooden confines before downing the home team at their home stadium again on Sunday in the title tilt.

Austin “Bubbles” Cantrell helped Rural Baseball set the tone on Friday night when he pitched a six-inning, 10 strikeouts, complete game shutout over the Grizzlies. Bubbles also put the Dirtbags on the board in the wood bat tournament with a two run blast in the third inning. RBI added an insurance run in the fifth inning after Cam Bowen drew a leadoff walk and Matt Kurzeika drove him home with a double. Bowen finished the game 2-for-2 at the plate.

On Saturday the Dirtbags kept up their winning ways with a 6-2 defeat of the South Lewis County Braves and then a 9-1 win over the Clark County Outlaws.

Cole Bowers was the winning pitcher for the Dirtbags against the Braves with four strikeouts and one run allowed over three innings. Kaden Harrington closed out the game with two scoreless innings of relief. Cody Towns led the Rural Baseball offense with a hit, a run, and two runs batted in. Kurzeika also had a hit, a run and a run batted in while Hamilton added a hit and a run scored.

Bauter, Mitchell, and Cooper were the only Braves to collect hits in the game for the SoCo Braves.

Bowen earned the win on the mound against the Outlaws with eight strikeouts and one earned run allowed over four innings. AJ Volk arrived just in time from the Central 2B League All Star game in Longview to notch two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 fifth inning to end the contest. Harrington did an excellent job behind the dish after getting the call up to the show from the RBI (17U) Wranglers. Bowen helped himself out at the plate with a pair of hits and a run scored while Kyle Hamilton added a pair of doubles, a run batted in and a run scored.

On Sunday the Dirtbags downed their familiar foes from Grays Harbor Longshore by a score of 9-6. Seth Butler registered a complete game effort on the mound for the win by scattering seven hits and four earned runs. At the plate, AJ Volk was 3-for-4 with a run and a pair of runs driven in. Cody Towns added three hits, a run, and a run batted in. Ben Woodrum was 2-for-3 at the plate with a double, two runs scored and a stolen base.

Having made their way back to Hoquiam for the Sunday night affair the Dirtbags faced off with Hoquiam one more time in the championship game. Woodrum toed the rubber for Rural Baseball in the title tilt and struckout seven batters while allowing just one run in four innings to earn the win.

RBI was leading 10-3 heading into the final frame when things started to get weird for the Dirtbags. The Grizzlies took advantage of a plethora of walks and errors in order to plate five runs in the final inning with the winning run at the plate for the final two outs.

Volk, Butler, and Woodrum all had two hits in the championship game. Woodrum was also walked, hit by a pitch, scored two runs and drove in a run to help the cause. Duece Kolb, Ryan Pedersen, and Hamilton all added hits to the Dirtbags’ tally.

Rural Baseball skipper Jordan Nailon said he was pleased with the way his team “formed like Voltron” to earn the championship on a weekend when they had players scattered around the region.

“Our younger guys were pulling double duty at the Brian Cox Tournament back home and about seven of our older guys spent Saturday in Longview at the C2BL All-Star game,” noted Nailon. “It was nice to have our feet to the fire a little bit and still find a way to win on the road. Heck, we even went camping and broke into Woody’s car when he locked himself out. I’d call that a good bonding weekend.”

Rural Baseball Inc. (5-0) will play a double header at Wheeler Field on Tuesday with the first game against Ocosta slated to start at 5:30 p.m. The Dirtbags will play I-5 Toyota Mt. Dew in the nightcap.

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