It was Class 5A baseball vs. Class 4A baseball this weekend, as the Astoria Ford Fishermen hosted Thurston Saturday and Sunday in a tripleheader under sunny skies at Ernie Aiken Field.
And - not surprisingly - the 4A Fishermen got the best of the 5A Colts, as Astoria won all three games, 5-2 and 13-0 in Saturday's doubleheader, and 17-9 in Sunday afternoon's finale.
Sunday's equivalent of a baseball marathon included a combined 26 runs, 22 hits and 14 errors.
The Colts committed 10 errors all by themselves, including six in a second-inning meltdown.
Astoria sent 13 batters to the plate and scored eight runs on just three hits, as Thurston spent the first hour of the game digging itself a hole.
Cody Strickland had a two-run single for Astoria, and Marcus Brown highlighted the inning with a two-run triple for a 10-2 lead.
To their credit, the Colts rallied with six runs in the top of the third, with a three-run homer by Aaron Clift bringing Thurston to within 10-8.
Astoria responded with three straight hits (a double by Marc Gallegos and singles by Max Johnson and Ian Erickson) to score three runs in the bottom of the third.
Frank Leonardi's single to right brought in Taylor Landwehr for a 13-8 advantage, which Astoria increased to 15-9 after four innings.
Strickland started on the mound and pitched two-plus innings before being relieved by Andrew Bergeson in the third.
The Knappa graduate had better luck at the plate, where Strickland went 4-for-4 and drove in five runs. He belted a two-run homer in the sixth inning for the final two runs.
Bergeson closed it out, allowing just two hits with two walks in five innings of work.
"It was real cool to see some young guys gain some very valuable experience," said Astoria coach Dave Gasser. "Leonardi had a nice base hit, and there's no reason Andrew Bergeson won't be an effective pitcher in the Cowapa League."
Recently retired as a high school coach, Gasser was back coaching Astoria's American Legion team, which is playing an independent schedule this summer, in hopes of joining a league in 2011.
"What I'd like to have is a legitimate 3A Legion program on the North Coast, in place by next year," Gasser said. "So that all of these kids could be playing ball for us against the best Legion teams around.
"The 19-year-olds are eligible to play Legion ball now, so every one of our kids who's a freshman in college next year can come back and play.
"And at the 3A Legion level, when you go to the final eight, it's real good baseball. And we can compete at that level."
Thurston - the 2009 5A state champions - provided some competition over the weekend, but only to a point. The closest game of the series took place in Saturday's Game 1.
Astoria's Mason Brause gave the Fishermen an early 2-0 lead with a two-run homer in the second inning.
Thurston starter Jordy Smith pitched a solid game, allowing nine hits with four strikeouts and two walks, but his defense committed two critical errors.
The second miscue took place in the third inning, when a pickoff attempt by catcher Jarren Goddard sailed into left field, allowing Brown and Dane Lund to score for a 4-0 lead.
Landwehr kept the Colts in check after that, as he scattered five hits with nine strikeouts.
Thurston's two runs came on solo homers by Aaron Hoover in the fourth inning, and a "Marine Driver" by Kyle Watson in the seventh.
Game 2 was never in doubt, at least after a seven-run third inning for the Fishermen.
Johnson and Brause had back-to-back run-scoring singles, Johnson scored on a grounder by Erickson, and Landwehr and Strickland both had RBI singles for a 6-0 lead.
Brown capped the inning with a two-run single up the middle, bringing in Strickland and Erik Knutsen.
Johnson had one of Astoria's best summer season efforts on the mound, as he allowed just one hit (a first inning bunt by Hoover), with eight strikeouts and no walks.
Leading 9-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth, Strickland had a leadoff double, Brown reached on a single and Bergeson drew a walk to load the bases for Gallegos.
And the senior-to-be cleared the bases and ended the game with a grand slam home run to deep left field. Gallegos finished with five RBIs, while Strickland concluded the weekend with seven hits and six RBIs.
Astoria Ford 5, Thurston 2
Thurston 000 100 1-2 5 2
Astoria Ford 022 001 x-5 9 0
Smith and Goddard; Landwehr and Lund. W: Landwehr. L: J.Smith. RBI: Thu, Hoover, Watson; Ast, Brause 2, Erickson. 2B: Thu, Goddard; Ast, Johnson. HR: Thu, Hoover, Watson; Ast, Brause. LOB: Thurston 4, Astoria 2. DP: Thurston; Astoria.
Astoria Ford 13, Thurston 0
Thurston 000 00 - 0 1 3
Astoria Ford 107 14-13 11 2
Clift, Kopczenski (4) and Goddard; Johnson and Lund. W: Johnson. L: Clift. RBI: Ast, Gallegos 5, Brause 2, Brown 2, Johnson, Erickson, Landwehr, Strickland. 2B: Ast, Strickland. HR: Ast, Gallegos. LOB: Thurston 2, Astoria 4. HBP: Ast, Brause, Gallegos. DP: Thurston; Astoria.
Astoria Ford 17, Thurston 9
Thurston 206 100 0 - 9 10 10
Astoria Ford 283 202 x-17 12 4
Johnson, Dumilieu (2), Watson (4) and Goddard; Strickland, Bergeson (3) and Cain. W: Strickland. L: Johnson. RBI: Thu, Clift 3, Johnson 2, J.Smith, Watson, Goddard; Ast, Strickland 5, Brown 2, Erickson 2, Gallegos, Leonardi, Johnson. 2B: Thu, Hoover, J.Smith, Goddard; Ast, Gallegos. 3B: Ast, Brown. HR: Thu, Clift; Ast, Strickland. LOB: Thurston 4, Astoria 8. DP: Thurston; Astoria.