Thursday’s Prep Baseball: Jones Lifts Bearcats Past Tigers in Pitchers Duel
SHUTOUT: Brock Jones Strikes Out 12 Batters to Help W.F. West Clinch League Title
By Matt Baide
W.F. West’s Brock Jones and Centralia’s Benito Valencia each turned in a complete game on the mound, with Jones prevailing to lead the Bearcats to a 3-0 win in an Evergreen 2A Conference baseball game here on Thursday at Wheeler Field in Centralia.
The win secures the EvCo title for the Bearcats, now 11-0 in league games.
Jones allowed four hits, no runs and two walks while striking out 12 batters. He helped his own cause at the plate with a double, a run and a RBI.
“Brock was getting ahead of hitters today and really pounding the strike zone and he’s tough when he does that,” W.F. West coach Bryan Bullock said. “Defensively with him on the mound, things are pretty good. Offensively, we’ve got to do a better job of swinging the bats a little bit better.”
Lane Douglass added a hit and a run and Leandre Gaines recorded a double and a RBI. Daniel Fagerness also had a base knock for the Bearcats.
Valencia allowed four hits, three earned runs and four walks while striking out five batters.
“I was definitely proud of our pitcher. Benito gave us everything he had and more and he kept them off balance,” Centralia coach Rex Ashmore said. “He gave us a chance to win or at least compete and stay in the game and you know, defensively, we still made a couple mistakes that cost us a run or two. Obviously with Brock pitching, that can’t happen, we’ve got to stay tight and not give them anything.”
Centralia’s Jeremy Wood, Robbie Aldrich and Tyler Milton each tallied a hit and Derek Beairsto hit a double.
The game started on Monday in the rain. Jones hit a double followed by a Gaines double to bring home Jones for a 1-0 lead after one inning, but the game was called after two innings and resumed on Thursday.
W.F. West plated a run in the third to begin the game on Thursday for a 2-0 lead. Jones hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh for an insurance run.
Ashmore was looking for the Tigers to generate a little more offense and maybe a run or two, but Jones was too good on Thursday.
“The problem with high school kids is somebody is throwing that hard, they think they have to swing harder and they don’t,” Ashmore said. “They’ve got to find a way to put the bat on the baseball and make contact. We obviously didn’t do that and like I said, the kid is tough. He’s obviously the best we’ve seen this year. We’ve got to make better adjustments and hopefully we’ll learn from that moving forward.”
Bullock knows the team has to swing the bats better but acknowledged the performance of Valencia for the Tigers.
“We had a hard time,” Bullock said. “He’s throwing all three pitches, he had his curveball, his changeup and his fastball, keeping us off balance and we didn’t do a good job of making adjustments and he kept us at bay.”
While the Bearcats have the league title and the No. 1 seed in the district tournament locked up, Bullock hopes his team can refocus for the stretch run of the regular season.
“We were just talking, we haven’t practiced all week and so it’s been a grind and traveling to Aberdeen mixed in with that, we’re making the most of it,” Bullock said. “Hopefully we can finish this week off. We’re playing a good Rochester team tomorrow and hopefully we’re ready to throw some strikes and swing the bats a little better.”
Centralia is in a much tougher position. The Tigers are 6-5 in league games, currently tied with Tumwater and Rochester for second in the EvCo. The Thunderbirds have the tiebreaker having already won two of the three games this season and the Warriors and Tigers have each won a game against each other.
“This one is no worse than the rest of them. Obviously we’ve got to find a way to win tomorrow, last night hurt quite a bit,” Ashmore said. “We’ve got to find a way to win tomorrow is the bottom line, a 2-2 week is better than 1-3.”
The Tigers have a two game lead over Black Hills and have the tiebreaker having won two of three games against the Wolves. Centralia (10-6, 6-5) travels to Tumwater on Friday before wrapping up the regular season next week with games against the Bearcats on Monday and Tuesday before ending the regular season at Wheeler Field against the Warriors on Thursday.
W.F. West (15-1, 11-0) hosts Rochester on Friday. The Bearcats have two more games against the Tigers before ending the regular season in Tumwater against Black Hills on Thursday.
Smith Does it All Rochester Over Aberdeen
ABERDEEN — Bodey Smith did a little bit of everything for the Warriors here on Thursday as they defeated the Bobcats 10-2 in Evergreen 2A Conference baseball play.
Smith pitched a complete seven inning game, picking up seven strikeouts along the way while scattering two walks, four hits and two runs.
Still, Rochester coach Brad Quarnstrom said it was not his hurler’s best performance.
“I wouldn’t say that he struggled necessarily but he wasn’t really hitting his spots in the first few innings…I was kind of getting that nervous feeling and then he returned to his normal self from that point on,” Quarnstrom said. “He’s done that for us all year long. He’s been our most consistent pitcher.”
Smith, though, didn’t just shine on the pitchers mound. He also dominated in the batters box, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored and a RBI.
Helping the Warriors offense along were Nolan Eyles and Jayden Lancaster who each had two hits and a RBI in the game. Jared Winters also had two hits and scored two runs while Logan Fry added a double and three RBI.
The Warriors had 13 hits as a team. They were also mistake free in the field behind Smith.
“There were no great plays today. We just made all the routine plays which is awesome,” noted Quarnstrom. “Aberdeen was a team that we needed to go get and we’ve got them two more times next week… We’re right in the mix of looking at postseason we’ve just got to take care of business.”
Rochester (7-6, 6-5 league) will play at W.F. West on Friday.
BEARCATS 3, TIGERS 0
W.F. West 101 000 1 — 3 4 0
Centralia 000 000 0 — 0 4 1
Batteries: W.F. West — Brock Jones and Lane Douglass; Centralia — Benito Valencia and Colby Steele
WARRIORS 10, BOBCATS 2
Rochester 022 005 1 — 10 13 0
Aberdeen 110 000 0 — 2 4 3
Batteries: Rochester — Bodey Smith and Tyler Soderback; Aberdeen — Malaki Balesteri, Luca Pisani (6), Anthony Alexander (6) and Eli Brown