WARRENTON - It's a good bet that first place in the Northwest League won't be decided until the final out of the final regular season game.
But for the next three days at least, it's Warrenton's (and Clatskanie's) turn to hold down the top spot in the NWL.
The Warriors picked a good day to have one of their best outings on the mound and in the field Tuesday, as they shut down the Knappa Loggers for a crucial 4-2 win.
Crucial because it vaults Warrenton into first place in the league standings at 9-2, while the Loggers drop a half-game off the pace at 9-3. Clatskanie is also 9-2. The Tigers defeated Neah-Kah-Nie 15-6 Tuesday.
"It was a very typical Warrenton-Knappa game," said Warrior coach Lennie Wolfe. "Both teams played close to their vests, the execution was good for both teams ... and both teams took advantage on a couple breakdowns.
"Nick Miller threw very well and David (Anderson) came in and threw well, so I was pleased with that, and very pleased with our defense," Wolfe said. "We didn't have to make great plays, but we made all the routine plays."
Miller started on the mound and gave up one run on two hits and a hit batter in the first inning, but very little after that.
After issuing a walk to Knappa's Doug Graham in the top of the second, Miller retired 10 straight and 11 of the next 12, before giving way to Anderson in the sixth. Anderson retired all six batters he faced.
The numbers couldn't have been more even after one inning. Each team had one run on two hits, and both had runners thrown out at the plate.
Jordan Shear had a run-scoring single to give the Loggers a 1-0 lead, but Dana Barendse was gunned down at the plate on a Warrior double play to end the inning.
Warrenton's Shane Rudduck led off the bottom of the first with a single, reached third on a sacrifice bunt by Zach LaRue and scored on Miller's single to right field.
Dan Wolfe was thrown out at the plate on a 2-6-2 play to end the inning.
The Loggers were back at it in the top of the second, loading the bases with no outs. Robert Rankin scored on a sacrifice fly from Donald Pitts, but that would be Knappa's last run of the game.
The Warriors turned another double play to end the inning when Steven Maki flied out to center field, and teammate Gary Aho was called out when it was ruled that he left second base before the ball was caught.
Warrenton took the lead for good in the bottom of the second when Eric Gantenbein and Jason Warner drew walks and advanced to second and third, respectively, on Bret Birman's sacrifice bunt with two strikes.
Both Gantenbein and Warner scored on back-to-back Knappa errors before the Loggers turned a double play to get out of the inning.
But the damage had been done, and Miller settled into a groove.
"I was kind of worried at the beginning," Miller said. "My arm hurt a little in pregame, but after the first or second inning, I calmed down and felt a lot better.
"They hit me pretty good that first inning," he said. "But I wasn't really worried. I knew I'd settle down. I usually struggle at first, then I get stronger from there."
The Warriors tacked on a much-needed insurance run in the fourth, when Warner scored on a squeeze bunt by Cody Mullins.
"I liked our 'small ball,'" Wolfe said. "A walk, a steal, a ground ball on the right side from a kid (Birman) doing his job, then a squeeze bunt ... I thought we did a good job of manufacturing runs today."
Warrenton finished with four hits off Knappa's Derek Jacobson.
"(Jacobson) is the top pitcher in the league, but we've been playing tough and hitting the ball really good lately," Miller said. "I don't know how many hits we had today, but we were making contact."
Said Wolfe, "Knappa's a quality team, and Jacobson dealt well with some pressure situations. But ultimately, I was most pleased with our execution of small ball, pitching and defense."
Warrenton hosts Salem Academy Thursday followed by a doubleheader at Portland Christian Friday and a doubleheader at home Saturday against Regis.
"We had the fifth-ranked team today, the third-ranked team Thursday and the eighth-ranked team Saturday," Wolfe said. "And Portland Christian is absolutely no slouch, plus it's a league doubleheader. We only played two games over 14 days, so we're excited to get the opportunity to play, and play some different, quality people."
Astoria 13, Rainier 8RAINIER - Rainier almost bought a huge victory (but didn't), while the Astoria Fishermen just keep finding ways to win.
Astoria overcame an 8-4 deficit at Rainier Tuesday by scoring four runs in the seventh inning and five in the eighth to defeat the Columbians 13-8.
A big day at the plate from Brent Culver was crucial for the Fishermen, as he went 3-for-3 with two doubles and four runs scored.
He led off the seventh inning with a single and came in on Keenan Borgardt's two-run homer; and Culver walked to lead off the eighth inning and scored the first of five runs in the inning.
Astoria still had to overcome deficits of 4-1 and 8-4.
"We didn't panic, and we just kept working at it," said Astoria coach Ralph Steinback. "I was real pleased with the way our kids battled back."
Mathias Brause got the win on the mound, pitching the seventh and eighth innings and not allowing a hit.
Astoria improves to 9-2 in league and hosts Tillamook Thursday.
Seaside 13, Tillamook 2TILLAMOOK - Derek Spivey was the winning pitcher and went 3-for-5 at the plate to spark Seaside to a 13-2 win at Tillamook Tuesday.
A bases-loaded double by Josh Stinnett in the fourth inning led to a six-run inning for the Gulls, who scored 11 runs in their final three at-bats to end the game after six innings.
Stinnett, Ben Christensen and Will Beatty all had two hits apiece for the Gulls (6-4), while John Knutsen and Dan Terranova added doubles.
Spivey allowed five hits with seven strikeouts and two walks.
Ilwaco 11, Kalama 10LONG BEACH, Wash. - The Ilwaco Fishermen built an 11-2 lead through three innings, then hung on for dear life Tuesday for an 11-10 win over Kalama in a Southwest Washington 1A baseball game.
Ilwaco's 13 hits overcame five errors and 10 unearned runs, while pitchers Nick Leonard, Paul Blaylock and Anthony Wirkkala limited Kalama to eight hits.
The Chinooks scored four runs in the fourth and four more in the seventh before the Fishermen closed it out.
Wirkkala was 4-for-4 at the plate, while Mooch Smith went 3-for-4 and drove in five runs for Ilwaco, which set a school record for wins in a season. The Fishermen are 10-3 overall, 6-3 (third place) in league.
SoftballRainier 11, Astoria 1Rainier pitcher Megan Stoddard allowed just three hits to lead the Columbians to an 11-1 win over Astoria Tuesday at Tapiola Park in a Cowapa League softball game.
Astoria's Alex Hillard had an RBI in the fifth inning for the lone Fishermen run, but the Columbians took advantage of 15 walks by Hillard and Mari Ramarui.
Banks defeated Scappoose 3-0 in other Cowapa action.
Tillamook 6, Seaside 0GEARHART - Tillamook scored three runs in the first inning and held off Seaside from there, as the Cheesemakers left town with a 6-0 win over the Gulls Tuesday at Norway Field.
Tillamook pitcher Debra Bohren allowed just three hits (two to Abby Frank), while the Gulls committed four errors, leading to six unearned runs for the Mooks.
Knappa 7, Warrenton 5WARRENTON - Knappa broke a 5-5 tie with a run in the fourth inning and another in the seventh to post a 7-5 win at Warrenton Tuesday.
A combined eight errors in the first two innings led to a 5-4 lead for the Loggers, before the Warriors scored a run in the third.
Knappa finished with 10 hits, while Logger pitcher Jenni Smith scattered four hits with two strikeouts and three walks.
Knappa's Jilly Ragnone was 3-for-3 with an RBI, and teammates Kasha Klauser and Lisa Shepard each had two hits. Sarah Kelley scored two runs for the Warriors.
The Loggers broke the tie in the fourth inning when Pinky Pitts scored on a single by Shepard.
Pitts scored again in the seventh on a double by Shepard.
Kalama 16, Ilwaco 0LONG BEACH, Wash. - Kalama pitcher Stephanie Kilkelly faced 15 batters and struck out 14 Tuesday, leading the Chinooks to a 16-0 win at Ilwaco.
Kalama led 6-0 after two innings and Kilkelly did not allow a single baserunner. Ilwaco's Lanie Kary flied out to center field for the only out that wasn't a stikeout for the Fishermen.
TrackScappoose sweepsSCAPPOOSE - The Astoria track teams suffered their first dual meet losses of the year Tuesday at Scappoose. The Indians defeated the Fishermen girls 75-70 and the boys 82-63.
Astoria still picked up several top-notch performances, including Shyra Merila's wins in the 400 meters (1:01.90 minutes) and javelin (110-5 feet), both personal best marks.
For the boys, Astoria's Cory Hissner won the javelin (173-7) and the shot put.
Hilary O'Bryan won three events (100- and 200-meters and high jump), while Maia Fastabend won the long jump and triple jump. See results in Scoreboard.