Cats win wild one from Centralia

Wild finishes are fast becoming an Aberdeen baseball specialty.

Countering a five-run Centralia seventh inning with three runs in their half of the same inning, the Bobcats pulled out a tumultuous 9-8 victory in an Evergreen 2A Conference game Tuesday at Pioneer Park’s soggy Ken Waite Field.

Collin Nord and Reilly Fairchild each delivered three hits and Devin Daniels scored the winning run on an error as the Bobcats improved to 2-2 in league and 2-3 overall. All five of their games have been decided by one run.

For six innings, this victory shaped up as much more routine. Making his first varsity pitching appearance of the season, Aberdeen’s Austin Kerrigan took a 6-3 lead into the seventh.

When Zach Wood reached on an error and Joel Lantau walked to open the Centralia seventh, Bobcat coach Shon Schreiber called on staff ace Fairchild.

First baseman Nord turned Michael Stuart’s hot shot wide of the bag into a force at second. But Joe Blaser and Ty Housden stroked consecutive RBI singles and Patrick Neeley followed with a two-run double to stunningly lift the Tigers to a 7-6 lead. Chuck McKinney blasted another two-bagger into the gap in left-center to increase the margin to two.

Schreiber conceded afterward that Fairchild might have been tired after pitching the conclusion of a suspended game at Chehalis the previous day.

The Cats, however, made good use of their last licks in the bottom of the seventh, as all six batters reached base safely.

Nord doubled to left field off Wood, the second Centralia pitcher, to open the inning. Fairchild then sent a ground ball past a diving Neeley at first base and managed to avoid the tag at second with a head-first slide. Nord scored easily to make it 8-7.

Daniels walked and Caleb Harris was hit by a pitch to load the bases with none out and bring Jon Sharkey to the mound. Chase Johnson, who had homered earlier, then looped a single to right over the drawn-in infield to tie it.

Cole Edwards topped a slow bouncer to the shortstop. The throw home plunged into the dirt and catcher Blaser was unable to scoop up the ball as Daniels crossed the plate.

“We don’t make it easy on ourselves,” Schreiber acknowledged. “But it’s a good win for the guys. I think they’re starting to believe in themselves.”

The Bobcats overcame a 3-0 deficit after 2 1/2 innings.

Johnson started the comeback with a solo homer to left in the third. The Cats then capitalized on a couple of misplays to tally four times in the fourth.

After Nord’s first double and walks to Fairchild and Daniels loaded the bases with none out against Tiger starter Derek Putman, Harris tapped a grounder in front of the plate. Although Putman had only a short throw home, his toss was far off the mark, enabling Nord to score.

A bases-loaded walk to Johnson forced in another run and Edwards, a recent promotion from the junior varsity, delivered a sacrifice fly to bring in Daniels. Charlie Dietrich followed with a routine fly to center, but Wood (playing center at the time) lost his footing on the wet turf, allowing the ball to drop for an RBI triple.

Kerrigan, another recent JV call-up, was roughed up for three runs on five hits in the second. The junior right-hander then settled down to allow only one hit in his next four innings.

Harris saved at least one run with a diving grab of Lantau’s drive into the right-center field gap in the fourth inning.

A light rain fell during the early innings, but had largely abated by the conclusion of the contest. Field conditions appeared better than in Aberdeen’s other home game, a rain-suspended contest with Chehalis last week.

AHS is scheduled to visit Centralia today and River Ridge on Friday.

Cent 030 000 5 — 8 11 3 Aber 001 401 3 — 9 10 2

Putman, Wood (6), Sharkey (7) and Blaser; Kerrigan, Fairchild (7) and Williamson.

RBI: Centralia — Stuart 2, Housden 2, Neeley 2, Blaser, McKeever. Aberdeen — Johnson 3, Dietrich, Fairchild, Edwards. Three hits: Aberdeen — Nord, Fairchild. Two hits: Centralia — Stuart, Blaser, Housden. Aberdeen — Johnson. Home runs: Aberdeen — Johnson. Triples: Aberdeen — Dietrich. Doubles: Centralia — Stuart, Housden, Neeley, McKeever. Aberdeen — Nord 2, Fairchild 2.

Winning pitcher — Fairchild (walked none; struck out none). Losing pitcher — Wood (walked one; struck out none).