LONG BEACH - Dylan Short's ringing single up the middle in the bottom of the tenth inning scored Austin Wirkkala, who had led off with a towering double to left centerfield, to give Ilwaco a 10-9 marathon Trico League victory over LaCenter in Long Beach Friday.
Skyler Olson went all the way on the hill for Ilwaco, scattering 11 hits, walking but four, and striking out 11. After allowing eight runs in the first two frames, Olson settled in to give up only one run the final eight innings in notching the victory.
The Wildcats had swept a doubleheader 18-4 and 9-2 two days before and had a whopping 8-0 lead going into the second inning. For LaCenter a victory would moved them into second seed in next week's district tournament and for Ilwaco the game was the end of their best season in four years, and nothing more. "We played with a lot of pride," Coach Dave Tapio exclaimed.
In the bottom of the second the Fishermen made some noise when Olson was hit by a pitch and Corey Dunn walked. A double steal attempt resulted in Ilwaco's first run. In the third Trevor Couch singled, Wirkkala doubled him home, and Dylan Short doubled home Wirkkala.
Suddenly the dugout was alive with the score 8-3. In the fruitful fourth Matt Wood and Dunn singled and when the right fielder dropped a fly ball both scored. Wirkkala promptly smacked an RBI single and then Justin Short launched a long home run over the right field fence that took full advantage of a stiff southerly breeze to knot the score at 8-8.
The Fishermen went ahead in the bottom of the sixth stanza on Justin Short's single and stolen base and Olson's line drive bingo up the middle. The Wildcats came back in the top of the seventh to force extra innings on a walk, fielder's choice and error on a stolen base.
Ilwaco threatened in the bottom of the seventh on base hits by Marshall Powell and Dunn and in the eighth when Justin Short singled, but was stranded. In the bottom of the ninth Olson tapped an infield single up the first base line and then went all the way to third on a Wood sacrifice bunt. The Fishermen subsequently loaded the bases, but a called strike three ended the rally.
Justin Short finished the game by going 4-5 at bat and Wirkkala and Dylan Short were both 3-6. Dunn ended 3-4 with a walk and Couch was 2-5, as was Olson 2-5. Wood and Powell each added base knocks to the cause. Dunn said, "This is the longest game I've ever played in. In fact, this is the best game I've ever played in."
Olson added, "My arm feels fine except it's a little tired." Coach Tapio praised, "You guys played with class. This is about as great a way to finish a season as you can have. I'm very proud of all of you." Defensive standouts were Dylan Short at first base, Justin Short behind the plate, and Olson on the mound as he made three stops of hard smashes and caught two wind-blown fly balls near the first base line. Ryan Tapio in centerfield made a run-saving snag in the top of the tenth.
The win improves Ilwaco to 4-11 in league play and they finish the year at 5-13, while LaCenter falls to 9-6 in the Trico, a game behind Castle Rock and in third place and they are 12-8 for the season. The Wildcats will be without the services of their number one pitcher, John Bechtold in the district opener, as he was ejected for removing his helmet in the field of play and then firing it into the dugout.