It was a roller coaster game for the two survivors in the Northwest League baseball playoffs May 17 at Pacific University.
By Brad Mosher
Neah-Kah-Nie opened the playoffs with a 5-0 victory over Vernonia, while Nestucca was waiting to play the winner for the league’s second berth in the state playoffs.
After a strong outing to oust the Loggers, the Pirates ran into problems against Nestucca and Bobcat pitcher Mitchell Richwine.
For four innings, the Pirates were shut out.
Richwine shut down the Pirates as the Bobcats built a big lead over four innings.
The only problem was Neah-Kah-Nie wasn’t ready to give up a shot at the state playoffs just yet.
After falling behind 7-0 in the first four innings, Neah-Kah-Nie scored eight runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
But the late rally ended in the top of the seventh when Nestucca reliever Cole Strober got Simon Elinsky to fly out to right field for the third out with two Pirates on base.
Nestucca’s roller-coaster 9-8 win puts the Bobcats in the state playoffs as the second seed from the NWL and sends the Bobcats to Oakland, the champion of Special District 3. The Oakers are also ranked eighth going into the playoffs with a 21-5 season record.
The game is scheduled for 5 p.m. today at Oakland.
So far, the Oakers have only lost to Monroe twice and North Douglas once in league play where they finished with a 15-3 league record.
The Oakers got the league’s top spot in the state playoffs with a narrow 5-4 upset of then-fourth-ranked Monroe in the district’s championship playoff game.
Oakland’s Kyto Anderson walked to lead off the seventh and Andrew Harrington singled with two outs to give Oakland the upset and knock off Monroe.
Oakland led most of the game, scoring three runs in the first inning three hits and an error. Cameron Benzel had the big hit in the inning, a two-out, two-run triple. He scored on Dylan Baimbridge’s single.
The Oakers are the only Class 2A/1A team to defeat Monroe this season.
Off to fast start
Starting Nestucca pitcher Mitchell Richwine had a shut out going for four innings before the Pirates broke the spell with two runs on the top of the fifth inning. Simon Elinsky’s two-out single scored two runs.
The Pirates responded with eight runs, closing the score to 9-8 going into the seventh inning.
But the rally, and season, ended without another score for the Pirates.
According to Nestucca coach Ken Richwine, the Bobcats seemed to lose their focus and allow the Pirates back into the game.
“We were over-thinking it too much,” he said. “I think we should have switched a little sooner.”
The coach did replace his pitcher early in the sixth inning. “We were pretty much at his pitch limit by that point.”
It wasn’t that Mitchell Richwine was having pitching problems on the mound as much as it was that the Pirates’ batters figure out how to get hits off him, the coach explained.
The Nestucca coach was pleased with the first half of the game.
“Each inning, they kept producing hits. They were doing a pretty good job.
“It was a pretty well-played game all the way around. I liked having runs in every inning. We missed the sixth but other than that we had runs in every inning.
“That is kind of an important part for me,” the coach added.
Big inning for Pirate win
Neah-Kah-Nie broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning of the first Northwest League playoff game with five runs.
That would be all the Pirates would need for a win and a shot at Nestucca in the second game.
Bryce Bridge had a double and an RBI, while Sam Holm had two RBIs to lead the Pirates at the plate.
Sam Holm watches the baseball head to first while he gets to second safely. The Pirates lost 9-8.