ADNA — One nightmare inning was all it took to turn a hot start into a loss for the Toledo baseball team, which fell 5-4 to Ilwaco in the 2B District 4 semifinals to drop out of contention for the district title.
Caiden Schultz’ first pitch of the game was a perfectly-located curveball, catching the Fishermen by surprise. Toledo’s ace went backward against just about every Ilwaco batter early, and for three innings he was untouchable, going nine-up, nine-down with four strikeouts.
But when Schultz went out for the top of the fourth, up 2-0, his command didn’t leave the dugout with him.
With one out, Ethan Hopkins got Ilwaco’s first hit of the day. Then, Schultz hit a batter for his first free pass. That was followed by a walk to load the bases, and another walk to put the Pacific 2B League champs on the board. After a flyout, there were two more run-scoring walks, giving Ilwaco a lead. One more run came home on a dropped third strike, and the Fishermen had scored four runs on just one knock.
“Sometimes as a pitcher, you have it all game, and then it goes away and you’ve got to find it, and he wasn’t able to do that today,” Toledo coach Mack Gaul said. “He’s still our guy.”
Rogan Stanley came in to pitch the fifth, but it went the same way: one hit by Hopkins, followed by enough free passes to let Ilwaco walk a run home.
Chasing two runs to tie, Toledo loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the seventh, but a runner on third forgot to tag up on a fly ball to right. The Riverhawks got it right on another fly ball to score a run on the second out of the inning, but that closed the window to tie the game.
“We mentally spaced there, and it cost us,” Gaul said.
The Riverhawks also had another pinch runner thrown out on the bases for the second straight game, and left eight runners on base — four in scoring position. After scoring runs in each of the first two innings, Toledo managed two more in the final five.
“We were coasting,” Gaul said. “We knew we had a good pitcher on the mound and (thought) that we could let the bats go quiet, and we did. I don’t know how many guys we left in scoring position, but it was an unacceptable amount. Just bad baseball. And everything that went their way was because of our mistakes.”
Rayder Stemkoski and Geoffrey Glass both had two hits, which Schultz hit a double to lead the Riverhawks at the plate.
Toledo falls to the consolation portion of the district bracket, and will be back at Adna on Friday to take on Kalama in a loser-out, winner-to-State game.
“The only team that’s going to beat Toledo is Toledo,” Gaul said. “If we clean that up and fix that, we’ll find a way.”