Centerfield Baseball, of Kalama-Woodland-Ridgefield-LaCenter, needed two wins on Tuesday to book its place into the Pacific Northwest regionals next week in Southern Oregon.
Following games in the Southern Washington Senior Babe Ruth baseball tournament finals against Prairie Hardball, Centerfield will make the trip with 8-5 and 10-7 victories at Ken Waite Field in Aberdeen.
All Prairie, of Brush Prairie, had to do with win one of the two games on Tuesday, the benefit of going undefeated through the bracket play. Centerfield got its place in the finals via the losers bracket, knocking out host Aberdeen Longshore late Monday night to get there.
On July 30, Centerfield Baseball will represent Southern Washington in the regional tournament at Klamath Falls, Ore.
Centerfield 10, Prairie 7
Fueled by its first-game win to create this winner-take-all contest, Centerfield struck quickly in the first inning and never trailed.
A lead-off single by Sam Gillenwater was followed by Josh Soske’s two-run home run over the left-field fence. This was Soske’s third home run of the tournament and the recent Grays Harbor College recruit used a bit of the Ken Waite Field wind to carry the ball over the fence.
An RBI single by Matt Dioron gave Centerfield a 3-0 first-inning lead, the first of three game-leading hits. Starter Trevor Huddleston was the beneficiary and the left-handed pitcher slowed down Prairie.
Brandon Bussey’s two-run triple in the second inning got the Brush Prairie squad on the board. Bussey tried to tie the game on a wild pitch, but catcher Ian Williams delivered a strike to Huddleston to get the inning-ending out at the plate.
Centerfield followed that up with a three-run third inning and proceeded to add to the lead from there on out. RBI single by Huddleston and Williams, along with a throwing error, plated the runs in the third, while Huddleston’s sacrifice fly to right field made it 7-2 in the fourth.
Prairie pushed back with two runs in the fourth — a fielder’s choice RBI by Cam Callaway and a sac fly by Bussey — and one run in the fifth on an RBI single by A.J. Taylor, but never got closer to Centerfield.
A three-run top of the fifth ended Centerfield’s scoring— Nick Martin’s RBI single was followed by a throwing error to score one run and Connor Fulton’s RBI double — for a 10-5 lead.
Austin Zimmerman came in in the fifth for Huddleston and survived a late rally by Prairie, a two-run surge in the seventh, before getting the game-ending strikeout to trigger the dogpile celebration.
Huddleston earned the win, striking out four and walking seven, for Centerfield. Cam Calaway picked up the loss, striking out two in three innings of work.
Centerfield 8, Prairie 5
Prairie started the day with an initial hitting display that seemed like a precursor to the game’s action.
Matt Vick was hit by a pitch and Garrett Lindstrom followed it with an RBI double to deep left-center field for a quick 1-0 score. Tyler Armstrong added an RBI double on the next at-bat for a 2-0 lead
Centerfield starter Jamison Benitez limited the damage in the opening inning, then saw his teammate give him a brief first lead in the second. Austin Holcomb’s RBI single preceded an infield throwing error to tie game at 2-2. Gillenwater’s two-out RBI single put KWRL up, 3-2, off starter Brendan Callaway.
Armstrong delivered again with an sacrifice fly RBI in the third to tie the game, 3-3. Armstrong led Prairie with two doubles and three RBI.
Huddlestone led off the pivotal fourth inning with a single, the first of five hits in the frame for Centerfield. The hit parade netted five runs — an RBI fielder’s choice for Williams, an RBI single by Gillenwater, an RBI hit-by-pitch for Martin and a two-run single by Fulton — for an 8-3 lead.
Benitez didn’t need much else to secure the win, giving up just an RBI double by Armstrong and a sac fly RBI by Hall in the final four innings. Benitez struck out just two, but made Prairie hit into his defense that gobbled up grounders and fly balls quickly, for the win.
Callaway took the loss, giving up eight runs on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings, for Prairie.
Pra 201 010 1 — 5 6 2
Cen 030 500 x — 8 9 1
B. Callaway, Armstrong (4), C. Callaway and Vick; Benitez and Williams.
Cen 303 130 0 — 10 13 0
Pra 020 210 2 — 7 8 3
Huddleston, Zimmerman (5) and Williams, Ell (4); C. Callaway, Taylor (4), Armstrong (7) and Vick.