Wednesday’s 2A Baseball: Centralia Lets Lead Slip Away in Semifinals
District IV: R.A. Long Plates Four Runs in Sixth Inning to Top Tigers
By The Chronicle
VANCOUVER – Centralia pounded out eight runs in the first two innings here Wednesday but couldn’t hang on for the win as R.A. Long came storming back for a 13-9 semifinal victory in the District 4 2A baseball playoffs.
The Tigers move into the consolation side of the bracket and face Ridgefield on Saturday at 10 a.m. back at Propstra Stadium in Vancouver. If Centralia wins, they face the winner of Hockinson-Tumwater at 4 p.m. for a winner-to-state game.
“They can swing the bat, there’s no doubt about that, they definitely swing the bat well,” Centralia coach Rex Ashmore said. “When you walk 10 and hit two against a team that can swing like that, chances are things aren’t going to work out very well for you.”
The Tigers posted two runs in the first inning off of R.A. Long starter Elias Farland when Colby Steele drove home Jeremy Wood and Jerod Frias. In the second inning, the Tigers got loose to score six runs with two outs with an offensive avalanche that included singles from Nolan Miller, Wood, Broc Selstrom, and Derek Beairsto, while Kolby Sharp decided to clear the bases with a triple.
“For three innings, I was really happy with how we took advantage of mistakes and hit the ball offensively but it definitely takes a complete game to beat those guys,” Ashmore said.
R.A. Long, which won the 2A Greater Saint Helens League this year, was by no means shellshocked by Centralia’s offensive output. Instead, the Lumberjacks chipped away until the Tigers were ripe for toppling. R.A. Long put up three runs in the first inning and then posted two runs per inning in the third, fourth and fifth innings while Centralia played whack-a-mole with their bullpen. When the dust settled, the Jacks had scrapped out a one run lead for themselves.
Centralia wasn’t quite finished though and managed to tie the game up at 9-9 after Jeremy Wood led the sixth inning off with a single and then came around to score on a groundout by Steele.
The bottom half of the inning was not as kind to the Tigers though as Jackson Hull entered the game to pitch in relief. Hull walked the first batter and then, as per tradition, the next batter reached base on an error. Another walk rolled the lineup over to the top of the order with the bases loaded and R.A. Long suddenly found themselves cooking with gas. Hull was able to strikeout Conner Wallace but then an errant pitch struck Jacob Childers to bring the go-ahead run into score. Two hits, two walks and an error later and the Lumberjacks had pulled away for good.
For Centralia, Wood was 2 for 4 at the plate with an RBI and three runs scored. Frias added a hit and scored two runs, while Sharp, Steele, Selstrom, Beairsto and Miller all added a hit apiece.
Ashmore thought Centralia was not mentally tough enough to overcome their mistakes against the Lumberjacks.
“Our mental toughness needs to be better where when we do walk guys or things are not going our way, we need to be a little bit tougher than we are right now,” Ashmore said. “That’s a part of the game that we’re working on and if somebody wrote a book on how to get kids mentally tough, I’ll certainly buy it.”
With their season on the line on Saturday, Ashmore hopes his team comes prepared to play until there is nothing left to play for.
“I just hope we have the attitude that we’re going to compete till they tell us we can’t play anymore and that’s all we try to do every year is complete until they tell us we have to hand our uniforms in,” Ashmore said. “I expect this group of kids will do that. I expect we’ll come out, play hard and we’ll get after it and see what happens. They’ve played well when they’ve been challenged a little bit and I’m hoping that’s the case come Saturday.”
LUMBERJACKS 13, TIGERS 9
Centralia 260 001 1 – 9 8 1
R.A. Long 302 224 X – 13 12 1
Batteries: Centralia — Jeremy Wood, Colby Steele (4), Jerod Frias (5), Jackson Hull (6) and Steele and N/A; R.A. Long — Elias Farland, Tanner Allen (2), Jack Childers (7) and Jacob Childers