CHEHALIS — The end to Aberdeen’s baseball season on Saturday was foreshadowed before the Bobcats took the field against Centralia, already written and played out during the regular season.
It doesn’t make the Bobcats feel any better, but it does provide the narrative to a highly anticipated season.
Leading 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Aberdeen saw Centralia walk off with John Sharkey’s two-run double to snatch a 4-3 victory in a District IV 2A loser-out baseball game at Bearcat Stadium in Chehalis.
For Aberdeen (13-9), this was its second straight walk-off loss in the tournament. On Wednesday, Chehalis scored three in the bottom of the seventh for a 3-2 semifinal win.
The loss also punctuated the Bobcats’ season with a story that will inspire nightmares during the offseason. Out of Aberdeen’s nine losses this season, eight of them were by one run. And, out of Aberdeen’s nine losses, four of them came on the opponent’s last at-bat.
“We lost all but one game by one run,” AHS head coach Shon Schreiber noted. “We got some luck in winning some of our games this season. We weren’t getting the luck anymore. They were making the plays. It is tough.”
If you saw Wednesday’s loss to Chehalis, you may get a case of déjà vu from Saturday’s game — an Aberdeen starting pitcher throws a gem for six innings, the Bobcat offense leaves more than their share of runners stranded on the basepaths and an opposition gets the timely hits with runners in scoring position.
Senior right-handed pitcher Charlie Dietrich threw six innings of solid baseball for the Bobcats. Dietrich struck out five, scattered six hits and kept the Tigers from mounting any serious threats while he was pitching.
Aberdeen loaded the bases in the first inning, pushed two across on a wild pitch and a throwing error and stranded two to start. The Bobcats left 10 runners on base in the contest, six of them in scoring position.
The only clutch hit Aberdeen got was Collin Nord’s two-out RBI triple for a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning.
“Leaving guys on second base, leaving them there,” Schreiber said. “We had those chances. We were bunting guys over to give other guys chances to knock them in. We were giving up hits late in the game to put guys in scoring position. Charlie threw great. The top of our order — Charlie, Ashton (Williamson), Collin and Reilly (Fairchild) — they carried us with their bats. If they were on, we were on. If one or two were off, we struggled. For nine losses, we didn’t figure it out.”
Centralia crawled back with solo runs in the first and third innings — an RBI single by Sharkey in the first and an RBI single by Ty Housden in the third — to tie before Nord’s triple.
Schreiber noted that the top of Centralia’s batting order (Michael Stuart, Housden and Sharkey) got its hits off Dietrich — five of the team’s six in six innings — and that led to the decision to bring in reliever Fairchild to pitch in the seventh.
Fairchild got a groundout from Zach Wood to start the seventh, thanks to a great off-balance throw by third baseman Chase Johnson. Stuart drew a walk and Housden got an infield single to bring up Sharkey with one out.
Sharkey slugged a deep drive to left-center field, almost identical to Chehalis’ Tanner Gueller’s walk-off hit on Wednesday, that plated Stuart and Housden to end the contest.
During the play, Housden and AHS catcher Ashton Williamson collided as Williamson went after the relay throw from the outfield, but the home-plate umpire ruled fielder interference, over Schreiber’s protest.
“I feel bad for these kids; this is a senior-laden team,” Schreiber said. “We had nine seniors — eight out there — and five underclassmen. We’re going to have to build with those guys. We were the oldest team in the league. We’ll get ourselves back here, bring those (underclassmen) back and go after it again.”
Abe 200 100 0 — 3 6 2 Cent 101 000 2 — 4 8 2
Dietrich, Fairchild (7) and Williamson; Putnam and Blaser.
RBI: Aberdeen — Nord. Centralia — Housden, Sharkey 3. Three hits: Centralia — Housden. Two hits: Aberdeen — Nord. Centralia — Stuart, Sharkey. Triple: Aberdeen — Nord. Doubles: Centralia — Sutton, Sharkey.
Winning pitcher — Putnam (eight strikeouts, five walks). Losing pitcher — Fairchild (one walk).