It's never really a question of "if" the Astoria baseball team will break open a ball game. It's only a matter of "when."
It just took a little longer than usual Tuesday night, as the Fish were clinging to a 4-0 lead over Tillamook through five innings.
The bats finally clicked into "Max-i-mum" power in the bottom of the sixth, when Astoria scored six runs to close out a 10-0 victory over the Cheesemakers, in a Cowapa League opener at Ernie Aiken Field.
Mike Gallegos blasted a bases-loaded triple to right field, and Max Johnson belted a two-run homer to left to highlight the final at-bat.
Tillamook played five games in Arizona over spring break, while Astoria had played just one game since taking part in the Glencoe Tournament (March 22-24).
"We've played two games in two weeks," said Astoria coach Dave Gasser. "We have not been on our field, except for the Rainier game (April 1), and we've taken one infield in two weeks - it's just hard to get any traction right now, to be honest.
"We're kind of back to preseason in some ways. Our pitchers are in pretty good form, because they get to throw regularly. And defensively we're fine.
"From an offensive standpoint, it's going to be a bit of a crapshoot for awhile," he said. "Are we going to be able to wait on a lefty when we haven't seen one in three weeks?"
With a 24-game Cowapa League win streak heading into Tuesday's league opener, the Fishermen were a sure bet to make it 25 straight, having outscored Tillamook 166-16 in their last 12 meetings with the Cheesemakers.
Still, Tillamook trailed just 2-0 through four innings before a few errors - mental and physical - helped Astoria score two runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Johnson led off with a double, and Ian Erickson and Jake Davis both reached base on bunts, as the Cheesemakers left first base uncovered on both hits.
Johnson scored on an errant throw to first, and Erickson sprinted home on a sacrifice bunt from Taylor Landwehr.
The Fishermen had trouble scoring runs early - stranding seven runners for the game - but Landwehr was never in danger on the mound.
The senior right-hander gave up a leadoff base hit to Nathan Seaholm, then retired 11 in a row. Landwehr allowed just two hits and two walks, with nine strikeouts.
Astoria finished with 11 hits - three by Erickson and two each for Dane Lund and Johnson. Jacob Golden and Jon Fick came off the bench for base hits in the sixth inning, when the Fishermen drew two walks, then followed with six consecutive hits.
Keifer Lucore was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in a run, for the 10-run lead.
"When we get into the dog days of April, and you're only playing one game a week," Gasser said, "the one really, really unknown is, how many runs are you going to get? It just takes a while."
Astoria is scheduled to play a single game at Tillamook Thursday, and will host Newport for a nonleague game at 1 p.m. Saturday.
"It would be wonderful if we can get three games in this week," Gasser said. "What we need more than anything is a couple decent days, playing three games, getting 12 ABs (at-bats) and taking a few ground balls. We were in such a wonderful rhythm, playing five games in seven days, it was just 'foreverville' since we've played."
Elsewhere in the Cowapa League Tuesday, Seaside at Banks baseball was postponed to a later date.
Knappa 9, Nestucca 3CLOVERDALE - Three Knappa pitchers completely shut down Nestucca in a Northwest League baseball opener Tuesday afternoon in Cloverdale.
Logger throwers Dalton Kelly, Trevor Oja and Cody Strickland combined to limit the Bobcats to just one hit, while Knappa racked up a 9-3 victory to open the league season.
Kelly got the start and was relieved by Oja in the fourth and Strickland in the sixth. Oja was awarded the win.
Offensively, Strickland was 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored, while Bryan Sablan, Tevan Klauser and Scott Lambert all had doubles.
Knappa collected eight hits off three Nestucca pitchers, while the Bobcats committed five errors.