NASELLE - The fine pitching performance of Matt Blain went for naught as the Naselle Comets lost a Pacific League baseball game 3-1 to the North Beach Hyaks in a game played Monday, April 10, on Buck Holm Field in the Naselle Lions Club Park. The loss dropped Naselle to a 1-3-1 record and 1-1-1 in league games.
Blain pitched all seven innings for the Comets, only allowing four hits, one earned run and he had seven strikeouts and one walk. Those statistics are enough to win most games. However, the Hyaks' Erik Frye also pitched a fine seven inning game, allowing seven hits, no earned runs, eight strikeouts, and no walks.
The Comets defense, which has been their strong point this year, wobbled in one inning, the fourth, when they had two infield errors on successive plays. Those errors came back to haunt them when both unearned runs scored. That turned out to be all that the Hyaks needed as the Comets bats went quiet in the late innings. The Comets out-hit the Hyaks, 7-to-4, with Caleb Hazen getting a triple and Doug Wise a double. However, the Comets fifth- through-ninth batters were only 2-for-15 at the plate and that lack of hitting hurt their chances.
Naselle scored first when the Hyaks committed their only errors in the top of the first inning. Wise was eventually able to come around to score giving the Comets the early lead. However, they left a base runner stranded, the first of seven runners they left on base. The Comets also stole seven bases in the game.
The Comets should have had another run when Wise rapped a double to center field in the third inning, Matt Chavez followed with a single to right field for the fifth straight game in which he has had at least one hit. Wise was waved on home by Naselle Coach Pete Donlon on the Chavez hit.
The throw beat Wise to the plate, but the catcher left the ball sitting on the ground when he tagged Wise. The umpire called Wise out, even though the catcher didn't have the ball in his mitt when making the tag, and no amount of arguing by the Naselle coaches could convince him otherwise. So, instead of a 2-0 Naselle lead, the game remained a one-run game.
Things went from bad to worse in the following top half of the fourth inning. The Hyaks got a base runner on base and the Comets committed their first error that should have been the second out of the inning and perhaps a double play. An error on the next play allowed the Hyaks to load the bases. Two of those runners were able to score as an Erik Frye hit figured in the scoring. Blain and the Naselle defense then tightened down to cut off the rally with no more runs.
The Comets did not score again although they had runners on second and third with no outs in the sixth inning. The hits the Comets needed didn't come and they were shutout at the plate in the inning by Frye's pitching. The Hyaks, however, scored again in the sixth when Erik Frye had his second hit and second run of the game. The result was a 3-1 Hyaks lead.
With the Comets putting up goose eggs on the board after the first inning, that is the way the game ended.
Coach Donlon praised the overall play of Wise, who made several fine defensive plays at shortstop and went 2-for-3 at the plate with a double and scored the Comets only run. Other hitters for Naselle were: Nate Sultemeier 1- for-3, Chavez 1-for-3, Jason Gradt 1-for-3, Hazen 1-for-3 with a triple, and Casey Heagy 1-for-3.
Erik Frye and Gaffney, Blain and Gradt
The Comets JVs played in a three-inning scrimmage following the North Beach varsity league contest and again the Comets came up on the short end of 3-1 score. Matt Chavez pitched the first inning, striking out the first two batters, before giving up two singles. Center fielder Cody Gilbert than made a fine running catch to end the inning with no runs scored.
The Comets scored first when Tyler Smith singled and was eventually brought home by a single by Kevin Maki. The Comets replacement pitcher then walked four Hyaks batters in a row before Nate Sultemeier came in to pitch and the Comets eventually retired the Hyaks but not before three runs had scored.
A combination of Naselle JV and varsity players (Naselle only had nine of their 22 player roster present due to spring break and illness) played against an Ilwaco team with many of the Ilwaco varsity playing. Naselle only had a couple of their varsity players playing in their normal positions, as they eventually lost the scrimmage 12-1 in a "game" not officiated by official umpires.
Naselle JV Coach Randy Lindstrom said, "With so few of our guys being available, the upside was that many of our kids who normally don't get to play as much got to play. The downside was that our lack of experience showed when we made five errors and only got a couple of hits. But that was OK because our kids got to bat against some tough pitchers. Several of them hit the ball hard but right at someone."
Lindstrom cited Colby Engelson, Kevin Maki, and Jeff Blain in the category of hitting the ball well.
A few days earlier, the Naselle JVs had beaten the Ilwaco JVs 8-7 in a game-like scrimmage where several Naselle players were experiencing their first high school game action. Lindstrom named Gary Olmstead, Sean Mobley, Killian Echols, Tyler Smith, Cody Gilbert and Logan Hazen in that category. Lindstrom also named varsity players Colby Engelson, Matt Chavez, Doug Wise, Caleb Hazen and Brad Erickson for hitting the ball well. The Comets pitched "by committee" with Casey Heagy, Chavez, Nick Hines, and Nate Sultemeier all taking turns on the mound for the Comets.