The Black Bears are like a cat chasing a laser pointer. They might be right on top of it, but catching it remains elusive.
Cowlitz lost 4-3 to the Victoria HarbourCats at Story Field on Friday, with a seventh-inning error and eighth inning caught stealing breaking the Bears’ back.
The latter, a two-out attempt to swipe third base, took the wind out of the Bears’ sails as a single would have tied the score at four runs apiece after shortstop Kyle Froemke’s error allowed the go-ahead run for Victoria an inning prior.
“It’s just that little thing, that’s the crazy part. We’re putting ourselves in good positions,” manager Grady Tweit said. “‘What’s that one thing that’s going to get us?’ and boom, there it is. We have to find a way to overcome that, and the only way to do that is by waking up tomorrow and coming back out.”
The two mistakes helped spoil an otherwise productive night for Cowlitz (3-4 second half, 13-21), with starting pitcher Zach Heaton going five innings with as many strikeouts and three earned runs. Three relievers went four innings with no earned runs.
Ryan Kim’s solo shot to center tied the score at 3-3 shortly before the mishaps, after the Bears had a first-inning snack which resulted in a 2-1 early lead.
Kim finished 2 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored, leading the five-hit night for Cowlitz. Victoria (3-4, 17-17) didn’t have much offensive success and the game was anyone’s until the final out.
It’s been the Bears’ season in a nutshell: Get close, commit an error on a routine play and take a loss.
With a new season underway in the West Coast League’s second half, though, the team can take that production and get cooking.
“We’re here to compete every single inning, with every single pitch,” Tweit said. “I think they’re into this for a reason and they get that. They’re grinding, and we’re just going to keep grinding and not worry about the stats or the standings, because that’s going to take care of itself as long as we take care of our work.”
Cowlitz had the fewest All-Stars (Heaton, Kim and Dutton Elske) of any team in either conference of the WCL, and Tweit said it’s something the team can use.
“As long as they can use it the right way,” Tweit. “If they focus that energy in the right way, it’s going to be a huge factor for us, and themselves.”