WINLOCK — At the end of three long days of baseball in the Egg City over the weekend it took MAC and the Dirtbags four extra innings and nearly all the remaining daylight to decide a champion here at the Dave Orzel Memorial Tournament. After 11 innings and plenty of extra-curricular excitement MAC was finally able to lay claim to a 2-1 victory that made the highly coveted hay bale trophy their’s for keeps.

Cole Hatton of MAC and Austin Cantrell of Rural Baseball Inc. engaged in a classic pitchers duel in the title game that rendered the scoreboard superfluous for the first seven innings of play. Hatton finished the contest with 13 strikeouts over all innings. Meanwhile, Cantrell had to settle for nine punchouts in as many innings.

After playing all seven prescribed innings to a standstill MAC was able to plate their first run in the eighth inning when Jasen Reed stroked a double to right-center field that scored Logan Brewer. With the game on the line, the Rural Baseball squad had to get crafty in order to extend the game. Dirtbag catcher Seth Butler led the inning off with a hit before stealing second base. After the next two batters struck out, the Dirtbags went to the well of good luck and let Butler take off for a do-or-die attempt to steal third base. When the ensuing throw doinked off the corner of the bag and bounced toward the middle of the infield, Butler took off again and slid in safely just ahead of the throw to tie the game up.

Hatton continued to deal in extra innings but the Dirtbags went to their bullpen and MAC was finally able to find another crack in the defense in the 11th inning. Hatton helped his own cause with a one-out single and then advanced to second when Alex Bratton drew a walk. Hatton then swiped third base and scampered home for what would wind up as the game-winning run on a wild pitch that ricocheted high up the backstop.

Rural Baseball was able to put a runner on base in the bottom of the 11th but Hatton was able to end the game on his 175th pitch thanks to a deep fly ball to right field.

RBI coach Jordan Nailon noted that the game was full of riveting moments and high stakes plays. He pointed out that the benches cleared momentarily early in the game after a MAC player was thrown out at home plate and elected to run through Butler rather than slide. He characterized that play, and the resulting fracas, as “good ol’ fashioned baseball stuff.”

“I hate to lose more than I love to win but I’m at peace with that outcome,” said RBI coach Jordan Nailon, “That was one of the most entertaining baseball games I’ve ever been a part of. Of course I would have loved to have walked it off with a win and danced on their graves but in the long run that’s not going to keep me up at night. That type of game is about as close as you’re going to get to paying appropriate homage to the memory of our founding baseball godfather, Dave Orzel.”

Rural Baseball had two teams in their honorary home tournament and both squads began play on Friday. The Wranglers faced off with MAC in Toledo during their opener and fell by a score of 11-3. The game was tied at zero through the first three innings. MAC then took a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth before the Wranglers charged back with three runs of their own in the bottom half of the frame. The junior RBI squad was unable to sustain that momentum, however, and MAC went on to score nine unanswered runs with help from a handful of errors. Alex Bratton led the MAC offense with a pair of hits. J.C. Workman and Chase Staup had the only hits for the Wranglers, with Staup driving in two of his team’s three runs.

Over in Winlock the Dirtbags kicked their tournament experience off with a 17-8 drubbing of the Fort Vancouver Bombers. The Bombers jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first inning but the Dirtbags had a potent antidote to that situation as they went off for 13 runs in the second inning. Austin “Bubbles” Cantrell hit his second wood bat home run of the summer early on in that inning and finished the game with a hit by pitch, a walk, three runs batted in and three runs scored. Kyle Hamilton added three hits and two runs batted in for the Dirtbags while Tyler Nelson earned the victory on the bump with six innings of relief work.

On Saturday, it was the Wranglers who represented well for the Rural Baseball conglomerate. Accordingly, they opened their day with a 12-7 defeat of the Centerfield Outlaws. Kaden Harrington earned the win on the mound for RBI and helped his own cause at the plate with a pair of doubles, a walk, and three runs scored. Jackson Hull added three hits and one RBI for the Wranglers while Todd Tabor, Chase Staup, Lukis Tamburello and J.C. Workman each added one hit to their team’s tally.

In their nightcap the Wranglers were paired up against their elder rural baseball compatriots for an all-RBI contest. Taking advantage of a slightly short handed and obviously lethargic Dirtbags team, the Wranglers were able to rope themselves a 10-8 victory. Jacob Douglass started the game on the mound for the Wranglers and also helped to set the tone early with a leadoff triple in the first inning. Douglass finished the game 2-for-4 at the plate while Mekhi Morlin was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a run batted in. Jackson Hull pitched four aggressive innings out of relief in order to earn the win on the mound. On the opposite side the positive news was incredibly limited for the Dirtbags. Tristen Lawrence was 2-for-4 at the plate with a double, two runs scored and two runs batted in. Kyle Hamilton added three hits and scored a run. Cody Towns pitched well in relief and kept the Dirtbags in the game but a rally in the bottom of the seventh inning plated only three of the five runs that were needed to extend the contest.

That Saturday loss for the Dirtbags came immediately on the heels of an ugly 16-0 pool play loss to MAC. Bratton pitched all five innings of the contest for MAC to earn the win. He struck out just one batter but also allowed only three hits. Ben Woodrum and Cantrell each smacked doubles for the Dirtbags and Jackson Boothe had the team’s only other hit.

“Saturday was not the Dirtbags best day in the books but I think it will prove valuable for us in the long run,” said Nailon. “I was proud as can be of the effort that the Wranglers put up against us in a game that nobody probably gave them a chance in. They believed in themselves, though, and that’s at least half the battle right there. After the game I thanked them for giving the Dirtbags a gut check.”

The Dirtbags were right back at it on Sunday morning with a 9 a.m. game against the Outlaws. AJ Volk earned the win on the mound for Rural Baseball with a six inning, two run, relief appearance that secured a 6-3 win. Cody Towns scored two runs for the Dirtbags after registering a hit and getting hit by a pitch. Jesse Towns and Volk each added a hit and drove in a run for the Dirtbags while Chase Staup, Butler, Woodrum, Hamilton, and Boothe logged one hit each.

The early semifinal matchup wound up being another all-RBI affair as the Dirtbags rematched with the Wranglers to see what color jerseys the program would be wearing in the championship game. The Dirtbags, apparently embarrassed from the day before, used the opportunity to avenge their loss with a 16-0 beat down of their rural compatriots. Douglass and Hull had the only two hits for the Wranglers in the game. Meanwhile, Volk and Butler each went 3-for-4 at the plate to help propel the Dirtbags offense. Duece Kolb, Cam Bowen, Matt Kurzeika, Nelson, Cantrell, and Hamilton all added hits in the win. Nelson also contributed on the mound with a four-inning relief appearance in which he allowed zero runs and just one hit to earn the win.

“I don’t know if I could ever come up with a better way to spend Father’s Day weekend. My dad sang the national anthem. My son helped us rake the field. Dave Orzel’s father and son came out for the ceremonial first pitch and the stands were filled with fathers and sons who have spent countless hours playing catch in the backyard,” noted Nailon. “There may not have been a cover charge at the gate this year but I think everyone got their money’s worth. Plus, we defended our title in the Rural Baseball farm olympics and we put all the hay in the barn. I’d call that a great weekend.”

Rural Baseball Inc. will play in Winlock on Tuesday and Wednesday against Kelso and the Twin City Eagles, respectively.

I-5 Toyota Goes Winless in Longview

LONGVIEW — I-5 Toyota will try to forget about this weekend after going winless in three games at the Lower Columbia tournament here over the weekend.

On Friday, Black Hills used the mercy rule against I-5 Toyota in five innings, 12-1. Brit Lusk started on the mound and Jackson Hull pitched in relief. I-5 Toyota managed just four hits in the game.

Black Hills scored two runs in the first, three runs in the second inning and poured it on in the third inning with seven runs to put the game away for good. I-5 Toyota scored their lone run in the second inning.

On Saturday, I-5 Toyota couldn’t get much offense going, falling to Orange Crush 3-0. Sawyer Burdick started on the mound and was relieved by Gabe O’Neil in the fourth inning and Eli Brown pitched the seventh inning. I-5 Toyota scattered four hits in the loss.

Orange Crush scored two runs in the fourth and added one run in the sixth to complete the win.

“All three of our pitchers did a nice job. We had a costly error in the fourth,” I-5 Toyota coach Tommy Grunenfelder said. “We had some opportunities offensively, just never got the clutch hit.”

I-5 Toyota wrapped up the tournament on Sunday with a tough loss against Kelso, 10-9.

Camden Ryan earned the starting job and was relieved by Drew Rose in the fourth. Eli Brown pitched the seventh inning.

At the plate, Brit Lusk had two hits including a double and three RBI. Max Taylor collected two hits and Jared Winters scored three runs for I-5 Toyota.

I-5 Toyota scored two runs in the first, three runs in the fifth and one run in the sixth before plating three more runs in the seventh inning to build a 9-2 lead going to the bottom of the seventh. Kelso scored eight runs, helped out by six walks, two batters hit by a pitch and two hits to fuel the rally to come from behind and earn the win.

“It was fine. We won the game we needed to win (on Thursday), league game,” Grunenfelder said. “We played guys in a variety of positions. Obviously, should have got that one yesterday, things like that happen. We’re going to be OK, a little shorthanded, we’re looking forward to Missoula.”

I-5 Toyota travels to Missoula, Mont., on Wednesday to compete in a tournament starting on Thursday. I-5 Toyota faces the Central Washington Spuds at 11 a.m. followed by taking on Walla Walla at 1:45 p.m. to begin the tournament on Thursday.

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(1) comment

bob frost

I hope “Hatton throwing 175 pitches” is a typo! No young pitcher with a future in baseball should be throwing 175 pitches in one game.

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