By coming up short in a game of inches, the Bobcats will have to go the extra mile — or miles — at district.
One out away from defeat in regulation, Capital rallied to outlast Aberdeen in 10 innings, 3-2, in an Evergreen 2A Conference baseball finale Tuesday at Pioneer Park’s Ken Waite Field.
The loss cost the Bobcats (12-6, 12-7) home-field advantage in the opening round of district competition beginning Tuesday. They wound up tied for second with Tumwater in the Evergreen 2A Conference standings, but the T-Birds earned the second seed — and the resulting first-round home game — by virtue of taking the season series with Aberdeen.
The Bobcats must now travel to either Ridgefield or Hockinson for an opening-round game Tuesday.
Of all the narrow losses Aberdeen has suffered this season, Tuesday’s ranks among the most frustrating.
Capital, which earned a district play-in game with the victory, found small gaps for critical bloop hits in the seventh and 10th innings.
An opposite-field line drive by Aberdeen’s Collin Nord, which probably would have scored Chase Johnson from first base with the winning run in the bottom of the seventh, landed barely foul.
Although outhit by the Cougars, 9-5, the Bobcats had numerous chances in the first five innings to break the game open. They failed to do so, stranding 11 runners.
“We didn’t have the heart to win this game,” Aberdeen coach Shon Schreiber asserted. “We get two (runs) and we’re happy with it. We don’t have the killer instinct to bury people.”
With Bobcat pitcher Charlie Dietrich sailing along with a four-hit shutout through six innings, two runs nevertheless appeared sufficient.
Noah Bennett-Cheng and A.C. Costa, however, smacked consecutive singles with one out in the Capital seventh. Colin Dooley hit back to the box and Dietrich, who may have had a shot at starting a second-to-first double play, instead threw to third for a force, with Dooley beating the relay to first.
Mitchell Dooley followed with a looper into shallow center. Second baseman Devin Daniels nearly made a sensational game-ending over-the-shoulder catch. But center fielder Devan Harke, trying to slide out of his teammate’s path, was unable to avoid making contact with Daniels’ legs and the ensuing collision jarred the ball loose for an RBI single.
Then Thomas Kerr tied it by lining a clean single to right field.
Relievers Nord and Kerr battled evenly through the ninth, but Cameron Monda dropped another Texas League single among three converging defenders in shallow right to score Kerr (who had reached on an error) with the go-ahead run in the 10th.That was the only hit Nord allowed in 3 2/3 innings.
Perhaps appropriately, the game ended in bizarre fashion.
Reilly Fairchild drew a one-out walk in the Bobcat 10th and stole second as pinch-hitter Cole Edwards took a called third strike. Caleb Harris then collected an infield single — Aberdeen’s first hit since the fifth — when the Cougar shortstop could not cleanly handle his sliced grounder. Fairchild stopped at third on the play.
With Daniels at the plate, Harris broke for second. Kerr stepped off the mound and hung up Harris between first and second, whereupon Fairchild headed for the plate and was caught in a rundown of his own between third and home.
Fairchild actually avoided the tag as he tried to retreat to third but was called out for running out of the baseline.
Both Aberdeen runs in the fifth inning were unearned.
Dietrich worked Cougar starter Kameron Miner for a walk and all hands were safe when Johnson’s sacrifice bunt was muffed.
Following a double steal, Nord lofted a sacrifice fly to right to plate Dietrich. Fairchild’s single to right brought in Johnson.
Nine Aberdeen seniors were honored in pre-game Senior Day ceremonies.
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Miner, Morris (6), Kerr (7) and Monda; Dietrich, Nord (7) and Williamson.
RBI: Capital — Kerr, Monda, M. Dooley. Aberdeen — Nord, Fairchild. Two hits: Capital — Kerr, Monda, Costa, Costa. Doubles: Capital — Monda.
Winning pitcher — Kerr (walked two; struck out five). Losing pitcher — Nord (walked one; struck out three).