SEASIDE - Ordinarily, the Cowapa League baseball race isn't decided until the final week of the regular season. The Astoria Fishermen are doing their best to blow that tradition out of the water.
The Fishermen reeled in their seventh straight victory Tuesday afternoon, as they jumped on the Seaside Gulls early, then rode the arm of Matt Brause to a 6-3 win at Broadway Field.
Brause scattered seven hits in running his record to 9-0 on the season, while Astoria improves to 8-1 in league play. Banks and Seaside are tied for second place at 5-4, with six games left.
"Four of our last six games are at home, so realistically it's there for us to close it out," said Astoria coach Dave Gasser. "These kids are a pretty tight group and it matters a lot to them."
Brause was the key in Tuesday's win, and may be the key to how far Astoria advances in the state playoffs.
"I haven't seen a bigger impact kid this year, in terms of what he offers," Gasser said of his ace pitcher. "He brings enthusiasm, and when you put him on the mound, all you have to do is play decent baseball and score a few, and you get a win. He did a stellar job."
Astoria jumped on the board first when Thomas Jaworski sprinted home from second on a single to center by Brause in the top of the first inning.
The Fishermen made it 2-0 in the second when Jordan Poyer reached on an error to lead off, and later scored on an infield error by the Gulls.
Travis Wesely had what turned out to be Astoria's biggest hit of the day in the third inning as he blooped a two-out single to right field to score courtesy runner Nick Bredleau and Poyer for a 4-0 lead.
The Fishermen needed both runs because Seaside put together a three-run rally in the bottom of the third. Will Beatty reached on a bunt and Ryan Spivey singled to left to put two runners on with one out. Alec Carlson followed with a sharp single up the middle, scoring Beatty.
Spivey scored moments later on a fielder's choice by Ben Christiansen, and Ross Knutsen capped the scoring with a single to right to plate Carlson.
The Gulls were headed for an even bigger rally in the fourth inning.
DeGandi led off with a single and Justin Rutz drew a walk, and Beatty followed with a base hit up the middle.
DeGandi got the green light at third and attempted to score, but was thrown out at the plate by Astoria center fielder Brent Culver.
"The one play that probably was the turning point was Culver throwing a guy out at the dish on a bang-bang play," Gasser said. "If that doesn't go our way, there are still people on base with one out. There could have been a real crooked number with the way we played that inning. That was a really big play by Brent.
Instead of a bases-loaded, no-outs situation, the Gulls had Beatty at first and Rutz at second with one out. And the inning would come to a quick close.
Brause struck out Spivey on a dropped-ball third strike, and Beatty broke for second on the play, but Rutz didn't break for third, leaving Beatty out to dry for an inning-ending double play.
Astoria tacked on a run in the sixth and another in the seventh, when Poyer had a leadoff double and scored on a grounder by Joey Dursse.
Brause struck out six with two walks, while Rutz, Oros and DeGandi allowed seven hits with nine walks and one strikeout.
Beatty and Carlson had two hits each for Seaside.
"Matt was throwing well, and I can't say enough about the job sophomore Thomas Jaworski is doing at short(stop)," Gasser said. "Since our first league game, he's literally made every single play."
Cowapa League Standings
Astoria 8-1 14-4
Banks 5-4 9-10
Seaside 5-4 9-8
Rainier 4-5 8-8
Scappoose 4-5 9-8
Tillamook 1-8 2-17
Knappa 25, Portland Lutheran 2PORTLAND - Knappa racked up 21 hits in five at-bats Tuesday to score an easy 25-2 win at Portland Lutheran.
Gary Aho had a grand slam home run to highlight the day, while Maury Dugan added a monstrous three-run homer and Sean Ferguson had a double and a home run for the Loggers.
Steven Maki and Robert Rankin (five RBIs) each had two doubles for Knappa, which had 14 different players collect hits.
Warriors, Tigers splitCLATSKANIE - An improbable comeback by Clatskanie in Game 1 helped the Tigers salvage a split against Warrenton Tuesday in Northwest League action.
Trailing 8-1 entering the seventh inning, the Tigers erupted for eight runs for a 9-8 win before Warrenton bounced back with a 4-0 win in Game 2.
Nathan Massey had a pair of doubles in the opener for Warrenton, which built a seven-run lead through five innings.
The Tigers scored the winning run on a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the seventh.
Massey had another double in Game 2, in which Tyler Collier pitched a complete-game shutout, allowing two hits with nine strikeouts and a walk.
SoftballAstoria 6, Seaside 5A four-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning lifted Astoria to its first Cowapa League softball win of the season Tuesday, a 6-5 victory over Seaside at Niemi Field.
The Fishermen trailed 5-2 entering their final at-bat.
With runners at second and third, Astoria scored two runs on a single which was meant to be an intentional walk. Lynnae Huber laid down a bunt to score the winning run.
Astoria's Mari Ramarui went the distance on the mound, allowing eight hits with four strikeouts.
The Fishermen racked up 13 hits, which included three apiece for Miranda Abrahams, Bug Coggins and Kim Russell. Coggins scored twice and Russell had two steals, while Lynnae Huber added two hits for Astoria.
Seaside drops to 11-9 overall, and will host Banks in a doubleheader Friday.
In other Cowapa League action, Banks defeated fourth-ranked Scappoose 13-12 in eight innings. The Indians allowed 11 unearned runs on nine errors.
Clatskanie 9, Warrenton 1CLATSKANIE - Clatskanie overcame an early 1-0 deficit to score a 9-1 win over Warrenton in Northwest League softball action Tuesday.
Clatskanie scored two runs to take the lead in the third, then added seven runs in its final three at-bats.
Chelsea Neahring had an RBI triple for the Warriors in the third.
Knappa sweepsPORTLAND - The Knappa softball team scored a combined 37 runs in two games Tuesday, to score a 20-6, 17-7 nonleague sweep at Portland Adventist.
Knappa's Alea Gribbin was 4-for-5 with three RBIs in Game 1, in which the Loggers - who had to overcome seven errors in the field - collected 11 hits and took advantage of 12 walks.
Steffani Kellow picked up the win on the mound in both games, helping her cause with a 4-for-5 effort at the plate in Game 2.
Kasha Klauser and Gribbin each had a triple in the second game, while Magumi Yamashita was 3-for-3. Klauser and Yamashita each had a double in the opener.
Boys GolfSeaside fourthPRINEVILLE - Bend shot a 301 team score to win the 13-team Crook County Invitational Tuesday.
Hermiston (310) took second, followed by The Dalles (319) and Seaside (322), as Joel Bletscher fired a 76 to help the Gulls place fourth in the team standings. Bletscher tied for third overall.
Other scorers for Seaside included Sean Hamer (79), Flynn Jiroudek (80), Chris Huong (87) and Hunter Solt (89).
Astoria 329, Rainier 389The Astoria boys golf team closed out the regular season with a win at Rainier Tuesday.
Medalist Johnny Wilson sparked Astoria to a 329 team score, with Wilson firing a 78 (40-38). Rainier finished with a 389.
The Fishermen added scores from Alex Ferber (83), Devan Flukinger (84) and a personal best 40-44-84 for Kevin Wiramihardja.
Astoria hosts the opening round of the District 1/3A tournament Monday.