WARRENTON — Two teams looking to go far at their respective levels this year met on the field Wednesday, as old rivals Knappa and Warrenton officially opened the 2019 baseball season in a nonleague battle at Huddleston Field.
While Warrenton is hoping for a big year in the new Class 3A Coastal Range League, the Warriors got a little taste of what baseball teams will be dealing with at the 2A level.
The two-time defending state champion Loggers may have lost some key seniors last season, but rest assured — Knappa can still hit, field and pitch at a very high level, as it showed in a 7-1 win over the Warriors.
The hitting was highlighted by newcomer Tristin Wallace, who had three hits in five at-bats, including a single to lead off the game and a second-inning double. The former Astoria Fisherman scored three runs.
Wallace was also Knappa’s starting pitcher, and struck out three of the five batters he faced before giving way to Eli Takalo in the bottom of the second.
Takalo retired the first seven batters he faced, taking a combined perfect game into the bottom of the fifth before giving up a walk and consecutive singles to Warrenton’s Duane Falls and Alec Herrera, helping the Warriors close the deficit to 3-1.
The Loggers responded with a run in the sixth (Wallace scoring on a single by Takalo), and three more in the seventh, highlighted by consecutive hits from Ryson Patterson and Cameron Miethe, and Warrenton’s fourth error of the game allowing three runs in the inning.
Wallace’s third hit was an infield single that scored Patterson with the final run.
On the mound, Wallace and Takalo struck out 14 batters with two walks.
Warrenton pitchers Dalton Knight, Austin Little and Gabe Breitmeyer struck out eight and walked five, with the Loggers collecting eight hits.
“We definitely did not play our best,” said Warrenton coach Lennie Wolfe, whose team was ranked seventh in the 3A preseason coaches poll. “We were way too passive at the plate, and made several critical errors in the field. With that being said, I have to tip my cap to Wallace and Takalo. Their No. 1 and 2 guys threw well and also had a good day at the plate.
“Knappa has an awful lot of new guys on the field,” he said, “and it wouldn’t be fair to compare this team with last year’s. I tip my hat to the 2019 Loggers.”
Knappa’s Logan Bartlett had two hits, with a double and two RBIs.
Knappa is scheduled to host Naselle on Thursday (4 p.m., Teevin Field), while Warrenton returns to play Friday at home vs. Nestucca (4 p.m.).