Everything looked back to normal Tuesday afternoon at Warrenton’s Huddleston Field: a sunny spring day with a big crowd on hand to watch the Warriors start a three-game series to decide a league champion.
And — business as usual — as Warrenton slipped past previously unbeaten Rainier 6-4 to move into first place in the Coastal Range League baseball standings.
Crucial hits by Dylon Atwood and Mike Ulness proved to be the difference in Tuesday’s win, while Atwood also picked up the victory on the mound in relief.
The Warriors (11-1) are seeking a return to the state championship, where they finished the 2019 season with an 8-1 loss to La Pine.
And — to show that things haven’t changed much — the Warriors look like they’re ready to play for another state title as they made all the crucial hits and recorded the big outs in Monday’s win over the Columbians, also 11-1.
“That was just a lot of fun,” said Warrenton coach Lennie Wolfe. Regardless of the outcome, “it was just a great game between two quality teams. Both coaches agreed on that.”
The two teams still have two games remaining (doubleheader, Friday at Rainier), but the Warriors have won 11 straight, and only need a split to secure the league title.
After that, 3A baseball will set up an eight-team tournament to play for an unofficial state title, which will be held next week, with the final’s place and time to be determined.
The only thing determined at this point: the Warriors are on a roll.
After Warrenton spotted the Columbians a 2-0 lead through three innings of Tuesday’s game, the Warriors roared back with a four-run fourth inning, highlighted by a two-run single from Ulness, Warrenton’s No. 8 hitter.
After a scoreless fifth, Rainier rallied for two runs on RBI hits from Logan Chapman and Josh Ellis.
But it could have been more, had not Atwood picked off pinch runner Griffin Hunt at first base, just before Ellis’s double.
Atwood made up for giving up the two runs by leading off the bottom of the sixth with a triple.
Rainier reliever Kenney Tripp struck out the next two batters, but Ulness followed with his eventual game-winning single to right to score Atwood. A bases loaded walk gave the Warriors their sixth run.
Rainier starter Brayden Marcum — on a pitch count, as was Warrenton’s Duane Falls — struck out seven, walked one and allowed two hits before leaving in the fourth.
“It’s been a number of years since I’ve coached against a kid that good,” Wolfe said.
For the Warriors, he said, “It was a good team effort win for both the coaching staff and the players on Senior Day. Ryan (Hoaglund) and Duane (Falls) have meant a lot to the program.
“I hope both teams make the playoffs, because I think both will represent our league well.”
Astoria 14, Valiants 4
Trailing 4-3 after four-and-a-half innings, the Astoria baseball team scored 11 runs in the bottom of the fifth, on its way to a 14-4 win over Valley Catholic, in a Cowapa League baseball game at Tapiola Park.
Michael Moore was 4-for-4 with two doubles and a home run to lead Astoria’s 10-hit attack, while Niko Boudreau and Gunnar Olson combined to pitch a two-hitter with 11 strikeouts and six walks.
Seaside 5, Tillamook 4
Tillamook’s two-run rally in the bottom of the seventh came up one run short, as Seaside held on for a 5-4 win over the Cheesemakers in Cowapa League baseball action Tuesday.
Both teams had nine hits, while Riley Kuhl and Jarred White had two hits apiece for the Gulls. Seaside starter Tanner Kraushaar allowed five hits in five innings, with Cameron Schulte pitching the final two innings.
Still hoping for a spot in the season-ending, eight-team tournament, the Gulls finish the regular season with games Thursday at Banks and Saturday at Astoria.
Knappa 9, Vernonia 3
Vernonia played Knappa to a 3-3 tie through five innings, but Knappa finally pulled away with six runs in the bottom of the sixth on its way to a 9-3 win in the Logger showdown.
Having already clinched the Northwest League baseball title, Knappa was outhit (five to four) in Tuesday’s win, but remains as one of only three unbeaten 2A team at 12-0.
The two teams play a doubleheader Friday at Vernonia.