The best laid plans of baseball men could not stand up against the desire of the baseball gods here at Wheeler Field on Wednesday at the Southwest Washington Senior All-Star game. As a result, a tie was averted and the prep baseball fans in attendance wound up getting two free innings of action before the Americans were able to down the Nationals 3-2 in extra innings.
The Nationals, which featured area standouts like Seth Butler, Ben Woodrum, Hunter Eaton, Tyler Soderback, Colby Steele, Daniel Fagerness, and Lane Douglass, took a 1-0 lead in the first inning thanks solely to the raw speed of an outgoing Bearcat. Douglass, of W.F. West, provided the Nationals with their first run when he drew a walk, stole second and third base and then scampered home when the catcher’s throw to third sailed into left field.
The Americans, which featured area ballplayers like Deuce Kolb, Frank Roonsburg, Sawyer Burdick, Camden Ryan, AJ Volk, Alex Bratton, and Chance Fay, were mostly kept off balance for the first three innings. In the fourth inning, though, Burdick of Adna drove in Zack Lofgren of Rainier with a sacrifice fly.
That 1-1 tie lasted into the sixth inning when Erik Titus of Castle Rock found his way on base to get things going for the Americans again. AJ Volk of Onalaska then moved Titus around to third base with a single to right field that allowed Chance Fay of Adna to plate the go-ahead run with a fielder’s choice.
The Nationals loaded the bases in the bottom half of the sixth inning but failed to score a run and wound up down to their final three outs still trailing by a run. That’s when Hunter Eaton of Toledo singled sharply to score Payson Parker of Montesano to tie the game at 2-2. The Nationals weren’t able to fully take advantage of the opportunity though and left the winning run on base at the end of the inning.
That’s when an announcement came through the loudspeakers that the game would be called off and ended in a 2-2 tie. The news was met with an audible groan from the players who wandered around confused for a few moments as the contemplated settling for a tie. As the PA again confirmed the decision to call the game the players took the game into their own hands and set back out to the field. The smack of a Daniel Fagerness fastball to his warm up catcher served as an audible exclamation point to the players collective decision to play on.
The game remained tied into the ninth inning before the Americans strung together a series of hits to take the lead for good. Payton Quintanilla of Hoquiam was the one who broke up the tie with a single to score Teegan Zillyett of Montesano.
In the bottom half of the ninth the Nationals put the winning run aboard but Mossyrock’s Deuce Kolb came up with a huge play in left field to snuff out the comeback attempt. With runners on first and second and one out Kolb charged in on a line drive that was slicing down and toward the foul line. At the last second he left his feet knowing full well that if the ball got behind him the winning run would likely score from first. With the outcome in the balance Kolb secured the diving catch and one out later his team owned the victory.
“As soon as I saw it I knew I was going to dive. I’d been waiting for one all game long so I was ready,” said Kolb.
The Mossyrock product insisted that it didn’t take long to develop a team chemistry, especially since there were lots of familiar faces from the Central 2B League in the dugout with him.
“I already knew a lot of these guys and the rest of us we just got along right away,” Kolb said. “It felt really good to be out here and get to play in this game.”
Zack Lofgren of Rainier was tabbed as the offensive MVP with three hits, including a triple, on the day.
All-Star game coordinator, Joe Bair, said afterward that this year’s contest seemed to be stocked with players who simply love to play the game.
“Unlike some years in the past tonight was a very competitive game,” noted Bair, who doubles as head coach of Lower Columbia Legion. “Originally it was supposed to be a nine inning game but then we lost some arms and we changed it to a seven inning game. I guess the baseball gods wanted it to be a full nine and they got what they wanted.”
The game was for more than just bragging rights as the area’s top players looked to solidify their case to be selected for for the All-State series in Yakima on June 8-9. The ten players nominated at the conclusion of Tuesday’s All-Star game were Hayden Wilson (Kalama), Teegan Zillyett (Montesano), Luke Brown (Wahkiakum), Drew Rose (South Bend), Payton Quintanilla (Hoquiam), Zack Lofgren (Rainier), Alex Bratton (Tenino), Camden Ryan (Adna), Daniel Fagerness (W.F. West) and James Anderson (Wahkiakum).