LONGVIEW — Rural Baseball Inc. dropped a pair of non-league games here at the Lumberyard on Sunday as Highlander Dental prevailed 12-4 and then 6-5.
The Dirtbags took a lead in the first inning of the first game when Seth Butler stole a base and then took home on an overthrow from the catcher. Butler tallied two walks and two runs in the game.
That lead was short lived, though, as the Lower Columbia senior legion team cracked back with three runs of their own in the bottom of the first. Hilander Dental added another run in the third inning to extend their lead.
RBI answered back in the top of the fifth with three runs to tie the game. Butler got the rally started with a walk and came around to score on a hit by Cody Towns. Austin Cantrell also drew a walk in the inning and scored on a hit by Tyler Nelson that also moved Towns to third. That’s when Jackson Boothe executed a perfect squeeze bunt to plate Towns and tie the game at 4-4.
“It really was a doozy of a bunt. Nobody covered first base and it looked like they were going to throw the ball away to bring in another run,” noted RBI coach Jordan Nailon. “It was a shame we weren’t able to crank up the chaos a little bit more there.”
Tristen Lawrence pitched the first five innings for the Dirtbags and kept his team in the thick of things by allowing just two hits and four earned runs. However, his undoing proved to be a lack of command as the former Onalaska Logger beaned four batters and walked a couple more.
Chaos arrived on the scene in the sixth inning but not in the Dirtbags’ favor. Lawrence walked the first batter which prompted a call to the bullpen for Nelson to enter in relief. Six hits and a pair of errors later there were still only two outs in the inning and seven runners had come around to score. Towns then came in to toss for the final out of the inning but the damage had already been done.
Tyler Reece and Luke Roth each had a hit and three runs batted in for Hilander Dental.
Dawson Evenson pitched four innings with no earned runs for the win..
The Dirtbags put on a better show in the nightcap but still wound up on the wrong end of the teeter totter
RBI grabbed the lead in the top of the first of Game 2 when Seth Butler hit a double to drive in AJ Volk. Later in the inning Cody Towns hit into a double play that allowed Butler to score from third.
Hilander Dental came back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the second as Austin Cantrell tried to settle into a groove on the mound. Over the next four innings, though, Cantrell allowed just one more run. His day toeing the rubber came to an end with a 5-3 lead after 105 pitches in five innings with nine strikeouts to his name.
The Dirtbags took the lead in the third inning after Butler started the inning by getting hit by a pitch and then Cantrell drew a walk. Cody Towns then singled into left field to score Butler before Cam Bowen singled to center to score Cantrell. RBI added another run in the fourth inning when Chris Heikkila and Lawrence drew back-to-back walks before Volk registered an infield single. Volk then stole second base and Lawrence scampered home on the ensuing errant throw.
Butler led the Dirtbags with two hits, two runs and a run batted in. Volk and Heikkila added hits for RBI while Towns and Bowen each had a hit and a run batted in.
The Dirtbags offense fell silent over the last three innings, though, and the magic ran out in the bottom of the seventh inning. More accurately, the Dirtbags’ pitching ran out, as Lower Columbia batters drew four hit by pitches to plate the winning run that came with two outs and two strikes on the last batter.
“We were a little shorthanded due to some extended graduation celebrations for our older guys and it kind of hamstrung our defense a little bit,” noted Nailon. “I’m not disappointed in any of the nine guys who came out here and battled for 14 innings today, though. They were gamers.”
Nailon added that Butler was a defensive standout while filling in at catcher for both games and blocking like a mad man.
Rural Baseball Inc. will host the Gorge Bandits on Tuesday in Winlock for a doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m. RBI’s Orzel “Haymaker” Memorial Tournament will begin in Winlock on Thursday.