Today’s Games: 5:30 p.m. — Grays Harbor 14s vs. Lewiston, Idaho, Field 9; 7 p.m. — Grays Harbor 15s vs. South Coast (S. Oregon), Wheeler Field.
CENTRALIA — The best games of the Pacific Northwest Babe Ruth baseball regionals involved both of Grays Harbor’s teams on Thursday.
Unfortunately for the Grays Harbor 14U and 15U All-Stars, they were on the wrong end of both games.
Tualatin Hills, Ore., secured the National pool’s No. 1 seed entering Saturday’s championship semifinals by holding Grays Harbor’s 14s to six hits for a wafer-thin 4-3 victory at Lewis County Sports Complex in Centralia.
Glacier Bay, Mont., put all of Friday’s final-day pool play games into must-win situations when it held off two extra-inning rallies by Grays Harbor’s 15s before winning, 4-3, in 10 innings at Wheeler Field.
For Grays Harbor’s 14U All-Stars, games played before they took the field ensured them a championship semifinal berth on Saturday regardless of Friday’s games. The loss to Tualatin Hills placed Grays Harbor as the National No. 2 seed and a 1 p.m. semifinal game Saturday.
Just as easy it is for Grays Harbor’s 14s to know their fate, it is a bit complicated for the Grays Harbor 15U All-Stars. The best scenario is a Grays Harbor victory Friday over South Coast, the Southern Oregon champions, for the National No. 1 seed. A loss, combined with a Kennewick win early Friday, sets up a three-way tiebreaker between Grays Harbor, Kennewick and Glacier Bay for the No. 2 seed.
Tualatin Hills, Ore. 4, Grays Harbor 14s 3
A well-played contest between Tualatin Hills and Grays Harbor determined which team could avoid American pool leaders and tourney hosts Twin Cities on Saturday. It came down to pitching and a few miscues.
Tualatin Hills’ Kyle Temme, Makoa Nakamura and Keegan Huey combined for a six-hitter against Grays Harbor, which suffered a few base-running mistakes to compound the tough day at the plate.
On the other side of the field, Grays Harbor’s Jerod Steen, Grant Larson and Seth Brink were up to the task on the mound, holding Tualatin Hills to five hits as well.
A balk on Steen in the second inning gave Tualatin Hills a 1-0 lead. A throwing error in the bottom of the frame scored Josh Collett to tie the game, 1-1. Steen’s well-placed sacrifice bunt in the third inning scored Sawyer Rhoden for a 2-1 Harbor lead after three innings.
Temme scattered two hits in his three innings, giving way to off-speed pitcher Nakamura, who kept Harbor off-balanced in his two innings of work. This allowed Tualatin Hills to take the lead for good in the fourth and Huey to close out the contest.
In back-to-back pitches, Grays Harbor lost the lead — a throwing error on a fielder’s choice play at third base tied the game, then Matt Clark’s sacrifice fly RBI to left field made it 3-2. Renner Stecki’s RBI single off Larson in the fifth inning ended Tualatin Hills’ scoring.
Nick Chapman delivered a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the fifth, but could have tied the game two pitches earlier. Tualatin Hills gunned down two Grays Harbor runners at home, the second was Jack Skinner on a second base-home plate steal play before Chapman’s run-scoring hit. In the second inning, Karsen Legg was gunned down at home on a bullet throw by center fielder Kyle Thompson.
Tualatin Hills also gunned down two runners at second base, including the second out in the bottom of the seventh inning to end Harbor’s final threat.
“We didn’t string anything together and we needed to,” Grays Harbor manager Scott Busz said. “We missed some signs, missed some execution and had some base running that wasn’t as good as we needed it to be. (Tualatin Hills) didn’t give up. They played small ball and we played decent defense. We just didn’t hit the ball as well as we’ve had.”
Grays Harbor ends pool play today against winless Lewiston, Idaho and owns the tiebreaker with both Glacier Bay, Mont., and Sheridan, Wyo., who play each other with 1-2 records.
Glacier Bay, Mont. 4, Grays Harbor 15s 3 (10 inn)
Tied at 3-3 after seven innings, Glacier Bay held off Grays Harbor, which had two innings of opportunities to lock in a Saturday semifinal berth.
In the top of the eighth, Harbor loaded the bases on an infield error and back-to-back singles by Kyle Standstipher and Rio Ortega. However, Glacier Bay relief pitcher Jonny Sapa got two infield popups to brace a strikeout to end the threat.
In the 10th inning, Kyle Standstipher parlayed a one-out infield error into a scoring chance at third base from a passed ball and an Ortega single. On what appeared to be a sacrifice fly by Tristan Robinette, Standstipher was gunned down on an extremely close play at the plate to keep the score at 3-3.
The play at the plate was pivotal for Glacier Bay, which finally got another chance to threaten relief pitcher Kyle Standstipher on the mound in the bottom of the 10th. Two one-out singles by Brent Wetsch and Colten Parker preceded a walk by Luke May to load the bases.
On an 0-2 count, Jesse Walburn delivered the walk-off sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Wetsch by a hair. Center fielder Camden Anderson’s throw to the plate beat Walburn, but catcher Chazen Hurd lost the ball as Wetsch slid in.
“I thought we had them a couple of times, honestly,” Grays Harbor manager Rusty Standstipher said. “I was going to call a squeeze (bunt), but not knowing all of the guys and what they can do, (I didn’t). If I had the right guy, I would have. The odds getting a ball into the outfield with no outs is pretty good. The kids played hard, the pitchers did a good job and that’s all you can ask. We have one more game — if we win, we stay; if we lose, we may stay, too.”
The first four innings featured two runs and three hits combined by each team, thanks to starting pitcher Kolby Standstipher and Wetsch. Erick Franklund’s RBI single in the second gave Glacier Bay a 1-0 lead. Austin Silva tied the game in the fourth inning with an RBI single.
Harbor took what it believed was the final lead of the game in the fifth with RBI singles by Justin Spencer and Kolby Standstipher at 3-1. Kyle Standstipher came in for Kolby in the sixth.
Glacier Bay tied the game in the bottom of the seventh with Tristin Steinwand’s one-out RBI single. Hurd, who came in to catch in the inning, ended the threat by throwing out Steinward at third base to send the game into extra innings.
TH 010 210 0 — 4 5 0
GH 011 010 0 — 3 6 5
Temme, Nakamura (4), Huey (6) and McGough; Steen, Larson (5), Brink (7) and Skinner.
GH 000 120 000 0 — 3 8 1
GB 010 001 100 1 — 4 9 4
Ko. Standstipher, Ky. Standstipher (6) and Bowley, Hurd (7); Wetsch, Sapa (6), Parker (10) and Franklund.