Centralia can’t overcome early deficit in loss to Shelton


TACOMA — From the fourth inning on, Centralia was in control against Shelton.

As Tucker Weaver settled in on the mound, the Tigers put together good at-bats, strung together baserunners, and plated two runs in the fifth inning.

Unfortunately for Centralia on Friday, the final four innings did little to bridge the gap the Highclimbers created in the first three, where they scored nine runs to take a big lead that they rode to a 9-2 win.

Despite getting the loss on the mound, Weaver was a bright spot for the Tigers (2-5, 1-4 2A EvCo). After giving up five in the first and three in the second, he started to rely on his breaking ball and settled in nicely. 

After Shelton was able to tag him for one more in the third, he retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced, and the lone runner that reached was promptly stranded. 

Weaver acknowledged that he heard the chirping from the Shelton dugout and he let it get to his head early, but once he made the mental adjustment, he quickly felt and saw the improvement. 

“I just started trusting things,” Weaver said. “I started trusting my slider, and I think I did pretty good after that first inning. If we eliminate that, it’s a close game.”

He ended up going all six innings, allowing nine hits and nine runs (four earned) while striking out 10 and walking just one.

The Tigers were close to getting out of the five-run first unscathed. After a close call at first base went Shelton’s way, the Highclimbers had the bases loaded with just one out.

A potential double-play ball was hit to Blake Seymour at second, but after a bobble, he had to settle for a play at first. He was able to get the runner out, but the throw took first baseman Marcus Miller up the line, and the Shelton baserunner collided with him.

While Miller tried to get back to his feet, a second Shelton runner scored and the runner that began the play on first advanced to third.

Had the call on the play before gone Centralia’s way, the out at first would have been the third. Instead, the Highclimbers scored three more runs in the inning to take control of the game.

“That’s baseball,” Centralia coach Jake LeDuc said.

A hit batter and three straight hits to start the second made it 8-0.

The Centralia offense couldn’t make a dent in the lead early, struggling against Shelton’s Matt Carleton.

LeDuc said that he usually loves to wreak havoc on the basepaths, but with a big deficit and a lack of baserunners, he couldn’t rely on that in the early part of the game.

“When you fall behind, it’s tough to do that,” LeDuc said. “That part of the game is kind of taken away from you.”

As the Tigers got more at-bats against Carleton, they were able to see him better, and they began grinding out longer at-bats.

Landen Jenkins got the Tigers’ first hit in the fourth, and in the fifth, five straight batters reached, and two of them scored to get Centralia on the board.

Centralia had a chance to make a bigger dent in the lead, but the runner from third was thrown out on a play at the plate and the next batter struck out to kill the rally before the Tigers could hang a crooked number.

“Our kids hung in and continued to fight,” LeDuc said. “That fifth inning, we’re one hit away from this thing really being a ballgame.”

LeDuc said that he hopes the Tigers will use this game as a lesson, and he hopes they’ll be the ones to jump out on the Highclimbers when the two teams play again on Saturday at Fort Borst Park.

Weaver didn’t echo the exact same sentiment, but he is also still confident about where the Tigers stand heading into the meat of the season.

“As long as we just clean it up, I think we’re gonna win a lot of games,” Weaver said.