Sultemeier loses no-hitter, Comets the game 5-2 in the eighth

Nate Sultemeier pitched eight innings against league-leading Northwest Christian and needed a wing and a prayer to force the game into extra innings before his Naselle Comets mates dropped a 6-3 Pacific 2B game at home Thursday.<br>KEVIN HEIMBIGNER - Chinook Observer

WESTPORT - "It was the oddest baseball game I have ever seen," Comets Coach Pete Donlon said following Naselle dropping a 5-2 critical Pacific 2B League decision to Ocosta in eight innings even though Nate Sultemeier had fired a no-hitter for seven innings. The win gave the Wildcats sole possession of second place at 5-5 and a berth into next week's district baseball tournament.

Because Naselle lost they dropped into a tie for third in the Pacific, forcing a playoff with North Beach as both teams have identical 4-6 records and had split their regular season games. The winner of the tie-breaker then would play the Central number six team for the final berth into the District IV tourney.

The Ocosta contest set for Naselle on Monday, but moved to Ocosta Wednesday, was knotted at 2-2 after regulation play. The Comets gave up three in the top of the eighth inning after recording the first two outs as Naselle was "home team" even though the contest was moved to Westport's GAR field.

"We did everything but win," Donlon lamented. "We had some chances at bat, but we had more chances in the field to hold Ocosta scoreless. Things just didn't work out." One situation that was disappointing was the fact that in a game with district implications only one umpire reported for duty and twice it appeared Wildcats had strayed off base and been tagged out, only to have the one official not see the play.

Ocosta had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the third on a walk and crucial error. The Comets took the lead in the bottom of the frame when Alan Erickson worked his way aboard with a base on balls and Sultemeier slammed a single. Both moved up on a double steal after the second out was recorded with a strike out and then John Hines slapped a clutch two-out, two-strike single up the middle to plate both runners.

In the bottom of the seventh inning the Comets threatened when Mike Shirley walked and was off and running when Austin Burkhalter smashed a line drive to the deep right field corner, only to see the ball land in the outfielder's outstretched glove on a fine running catch.

Ocosta tied the game in the fifth on another walk and error and then in the eighth used a pair of Naselle errors, a single and a double to score three runs after Sultemeier had struck out the first hitter in the extra frame and flagged down a come-backer to the mound for the second out. He faced two hitters over the limit during the first seven innings and walked two and struck out nine, while finishing with a two-hit gem.

Nick Hines, Logan Scrabeck and Shirley belted singles and joined John Hines with one and Sultemeier with two safeties for Naselle in the tilt. The Comets are now 6-9 on the year and finish 4-6 in league and tied for third. The Wildcats are 8-7 on the year and 5-5 in league play and they will play the Central number two team at 1 p.m. May 12 in Napavine to kick off the District IV tourney.

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