Hoquiam rides Lowder’s arm to a 6-2 win over Elma

Another excellent pitching performance by Hoquiam ace pitcher Sammy Lowder helped the Grizzlies defeat the Elma Eagles, 6-2, at Olympic Stadium on Tuesday in an Evergreen 1A League baseball game.

The junior southpaw went the distance, allowing just one earned run and five hits while striking out seven batters.

With this win, Lowder improved his season record to 5-2. The only two losses on Lowder’s resume were against the state’s top-ranked team, the undefeated Montesano Bulldogs.

“He’s the go-to kid for us,” Hoquiam head coach Steve Jump said of Lowder. “Our defense feels great with him on the mound, and we just need to get him some early run support. He’s the real deal, and he’s going to take us places if we hit behind him and play good defense. He keeps hitters off balance, he hits his spots, and he works ahead. I’m glad he’s only a junior because that means we have him next year, too.”

“My fastball (has gotten better), and I’m hitting my spots a little better than last year,” Lowder said. “The change-up definitely helps. I’ve been working on it a lot to get it to where it is, but I honestly think that I have the best defense behind me. I have a rock solid defense. That really helps me to be confident when I pitch.”

Ronnie Espedal led off the fourth inning for the Grizzlies with a line drive single into left field. After a sacrifice bunt by Lowder moved Espedal to second base, Drew Bravos reached base on a fielding error and Kolby Standstipher drew a walk to load the bases.

Two batters later, Josh Bishop drove in Espedal and Bravos with a two-out single into right field. Bishop’s hit gave Hoquiam a 3-0 lead and Lowder all the run support he would need.

As if his performance on the mound was not enough, Lowder was also impressive in each of his three plate appearances. The pitcher drilled a triple to the right-center field fence in the second inning, laid down a sacrifice bunt in the fourth inning, and reached on a walk in the fifth inning.

Elma’s ace, Layne Sutten, held the Grizzlies to one run through the first three innings, but did not take the mound for the fourth inning.

“We’ve faced (Lowder) 14 innings this year and only gotten four runs off of him,” Elma head coach Scott Rowland said. “He’s a heck of a thrower and you have to give the kid credit. Layne threw well in the first few innings, but we had to make a move to keep all of our throwers alive for the rest of the week. Being down one and with Sammy shutting us out, chances are we would have had to score more to get into it. That’s why we made the move we did.”

Hoquiam tacked on three more security runs in the fifth inning. Jake Guined connected with the first pitch he saw and pushed a single into right field. Joel Brydon followed with a walk, and Espedal reached on a fielding error to load the bases. Lowder then walked, scoring Guined. The next batter, Drew Bravos, hit a sacrifice grounder that drove in Brydon. A few pitches later, Espedal scored on a wild pitch, giving the Grizzlies a 6-0 lead.

Elma did manage to get on the board in the seventh.

Sutten walked to lead off the inning, then Thomas Hughes reached on a fielding error. A bloop single into right field by Austin Neary loaded the bases. Two batters later, Todd Swinhart hit a ground ball that just barely evaded Brydon’s glove to get into right field. Sutten and Hughes both scored on the hit, cutting the Eagles’ deficit to 6-2.

However, the next batter flew out to Camden Anderson in center field. Neary tagged up and tried to score from third. After securing the catch, Anderson fired the ball to Espedal at the plate. Anderson’s throw was right on the money and in plenty of time for Espedal to tag Neary, ending the game.

Both of these teams will be on the road on Thursday — Elma will travel to Forks to face the Spartans in a doubleheader, while Hoquiam will travel to Rainier to face the Mountaineers.

Elma 000 000 2 — 2 5 2 Hoq 010 230 X — 6 8 1

Sutten, Simpson (4) and Black; Lowder and Espedal

RBl: Elma — Swinhart 2. Hoquiam – Bishop 2, Bravos, Lowder. Three hits: Elma — Neary. Hoquiam - Guined. Triples: Hoquiam – Lowder. Doubles: Hoquiam — Guined.

Winning pitcher — Lowder (walked three; struck out seven). Losing pitcher — Sutten (walked none; struck out four).