For the second year in a row, Columbia High baseball season ended with a loss in a winner-to-state game at the Southwest District 1A tournament in Castle Rock.
The Bruins (17-7) lost to La Center 4-2 last Saturday in the game for the district’s third of three berths to the regional playoffs.
CHS put itself into that game by shutting out Tenino 2-0 last Friday. The win followed a 13-0 loss last Tues-day to King’s Way.
The Trico League co-champions opened district play May 7 with a 6-3 come-from-behind victory over and at Hoquiam, in eight innings.
The lack of hitting, along with untimely errors in the field, cost the Bruins. After collecting nine hits off Hoquiam pitchers, they managed just eight hits and four runs in their final three games.
“The only way to explain our lack of offense was sometimes that is how baseball is. I think if you look at our entire season, we were not the best hitting team, but we were very good at situational hitting and timely hitting,” Bruins Coach John Hallead said.
“Sometimes baseball success offensively comes in waves, but this year our low wave hit us at the wrong time, during districts,” Hal-lead continued. “I don’t believe that the pitching we faced, other than King's Way's pitching, was that much better than ours. We just really struggled top to bottom in our lineup.”
La Center 4, Columbia 2: The Wildcats scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth on four hits and an error to erase a 1-0 deficit.
The Bruins took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third after Trenton Howard was hit by a pitch, stole second, and moved to third on a passed ball. He came home on Tylan Webster’s sacrifice fly.
CHS rallied for another run in the sixth. This time, William Gross was hit by a pitch and Webster walked to put runners on first and second with no outs.
La Center put Gross out at third on Davis Koester’s fielder’s choice.
Shad Curtis delivered an RBI double to bring in Webster and cut CHS’s deficit in half at 4-2.
The rally ended, however, with a double play: fly out, followed by Koester being thrown out at home after tagging up and trying to score.
In the top of the seventh, CHS put the tying runs on base with nobody out.
Trevor Cooper led off with a single and moved to second on pinch-hitter Sean Mc-Mahon’s line-drive base hit.
A failed sacrifice bunt by Dominic Raether resulted in the first out and brought up the top of the order: Howard and Gross.
Howard struck out and Gross grounded out to end the Bruins’ season.
Gross, who pitched the first five innings, took the loss. He gave up six hits but only two earned runs. He walked two and struck out four in his prep start.
Things unraveled for CHS in the top of the fifth. Gross, up until then had been sailing along, nursing CHS’s 1-0 edge toward the finish line.
After the lead-off hitter reached on an error and took second on the play, Gross struck out the next guy. An infield single froze the runner at second but left Gross with runners on first and second.
The right-hander got the next batter to fly out to Raether in right field for the second out. Then, heck broke loose on the Bruins.
La Center took advantage of Columbia miscues and timely hits to strike back.
Jack Ossenkop, who had three of the Wildcats’ seven hits, hit a deep foul ball that would have been the third out. A CHS outfielder dropped the ball and gave Ossen-kop another chance. On re-boot, Ossenkop hit a grounder to shortstop.
CHS’s fielder bobbled the ball for an error that loaded the bases. A walk to the next batter forced in La Center’s first run.
The Wildcats plated three more runs on a two-run single (by their pitcher) and a passed ball to make it 4-1.
Columbia 2, Tenino 0: The Bruins mustered only two hits in the loser-out game, but both had an impact on the outcome.
Davis Koester’s bunt single to the right of Tenino’s right-handed pitcher scored William Gross in the bottom of the first after Gross had walked, stolen second base, and taken third on a passed ball.
In the fourth, Tylan Webster led off with a walk and stole second. He scored the Bruins’ second run on Adam Goodwillie’s single.
Gross started for CHS and worked his way out a first-inning jam as the Beavers to two of their eight hits in the frame.
Goodwillie relieved Gross in the second and threw five innings to pick up the win.
Koester worked the fifth in relief of Goodwillie but ran into trouble right away. The Beavers strung together three singles to load the bases with nobody out.
Koester retired the side, however, without giving up a run on a pop-up to shortstop Gross near the line behind third base, a strikeout, and a lineout to right fielder Jordan Trout.
Goodwillie returned for the sixth and, in a fashion, to save the game he was in line to win. He completed CHS’s three-pitcher staff shutout of Tenino.
“Our pitching, save for the King’s Way game, was very good the entire tournament,” Hallead said. “Just one bad inning...”