The change in conditions between day games and evening games – between the wind off of left field and the heat – make Story Field practically a different ball park for matinees. But Sunday, only Port Angeles’ hitters were able to take advantage, as the Lefties avoided the sweep with a dominant 12-1 win over Cowlitz.
“It’s always tough to sweep a team, and they have talented bats,” Cowlitz skipper Brian Burres said. “They grabbed the momentum early, and we were never able to turn it back to our side, and they just ran with it.”
Those Port Angeles bats took three innings to get going against starter Izaak Martinez, but once they did, they stayed rolling. It started in the top of the third with a three-spot, before the Lefties added two more against Martinez in the fifth.
Dale Takalo came in for the top of the sixth and got two quick outs, but gave up a walk and a two-run homer to make it 7-0. When Toma Murase entered for the seventh, the Lefties punished him for a walk and a hit batter with a two-run double. And when Eli Takalo threw the ninth, Port Angeles gave him the same treatment as his brother, getting two quick outs before putting a pair of runners on and bringing them home with a three-run bomb.
The Black Bears’ pitchers struggled to end both at-bats and innings all day long. They gave up eight baserunners off of two-strike counts, while the Lefties racked up four walks and three hits – two of them homers – off of Cowlitz’s relievers with two outs.
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“I couldn’t tell you exactly, it just happened,” Burres said. “I think it’s something to learn from.”
Meanwhile, the offense that came out just in time Saturday evening stayed dormant the whole way through. Cowlitz put two runners on in both the first and second innings, but couldn’t get anything out of it. Come the late game, it was more of the same, with the Black Bears leaving multiple runners on base again in the sixth and seventh.
Cowlitz finally broke onto the scoreboard in the bottom of the eighth, when Torrehano Sweet got hit by a pitch and Kase Ogata lined a double down the line to put two in scoring position with one out, but all the Black Bears could manage was a run-scoring groundout by Jaden Sheppard, keeping the deficit well out of reach at 9-1.
Ogata, in his first game back since July 20, went 2-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch. Matthew Schwarz addedtwo hits at the bottom of the order.
The Black Bears will get Monday off before going to a key series at the RORC against Ridgefield. For one, the series will decide who wins the Columbia Cup, awarded this season to the winner of the seven-game series between the two Southwest Washington sides. For a second, it’ll be three huge games in the stretch run to determine the second playoff team from the WCL’s south division.
“From here on out – and it has been, really – our next game is our biggest game,” Burres said. “Especially Ridgefield, that’s who we’re chasing in the second half. There’s a little rivalry there, just with everything set up between us and the Columbia Cup, and other little things. I feel like the guys will come out excited to go out there and do what they can to win every game.”