Union senior Ethan Beniga was on deck, figuring he would get his shot against the Battle Ground Tigers.
“That’s what you live for. You want that,” Beniga said. “That’s all I was thinking. ‘It’s on me. I can win this for us.'”
A couple minutes later, sure enough, he won it for the Titans in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Beniga’s base hit drove in Matt Huberty for the 3-2 win over the Tigers Wednesday, clinching the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League title. Union rallied with a run in the sixth inning to tie the game, setting up the final dramatics.
The celebration was a little uncomfortable for Beniga, but worth it.
“I was on the bottom (of the pile). I was getting squished,” he said. “I couldn’t breathe.”
It was the Titans who were holding their breath the last few games. Union’s three-game lead in the standings last week fell to one against second-place Battle Ground. The Tigers were hoping to move into a first-place tie with a win Wednesday.
Instead, Union pitcher David Buehler kept the Tigers from doing much on offense. Buehler went the distance, giving up five hits, no earned runs, with two strikeouts.
He gave credit to his teammates.
“I knew I had the best defense in the league behind me,” Buehler said. “My defense won that game.”
He specifically noted big plays made by Brady Whalen, Jason Webb, Huberty, Beniga, and Thomas Lampkin. Buehler pumped his fist after getting out of the top of the seventh. He knew it would be his last inning of work, and he left the mound in a tie game.
“I was excited to hold them to no runs that inning and give me guys a chance to win,” he said.
Union improved to 11-3 in the 4A GSHL with one to play. The Titans will go directly to the district championship game.
Battle Ground dropped to 9-5 in league along with Skyview. The Tigers hold the tiebreaker with the Storm and can clinch the No. 2 seed with a win over Evergreen on Friday.
Stars of the day
- Ashlyn Boyle, Hudson’s Bay softball, struck out nine and allowed four hits in a 6-2 complete-game win over Fort Vancouver.
- Bailey Sievers, Columbia River softball, went 2 for 3 with a double in the eighth inning and scored the game-winning run in River’s 4-3 win over Mountain View.
- Alexis Kron, Union softball, doubled and hit two home runs and had five RBI as Union beat Evergreen 16-7.
- Lena Richards, Camas softball, hit a triple and a home run as Camas bounced back to beat Heritage 13-0.
- Michelle Brincefield, Skyview softball, struck out 11 over seven innings of pitching and 2 for 4 with two RBI at the plate as the Storm beat Battle Ground 4-3.
- Seth Rayburn, Columbia River baseball, didn’t allow an earned run in seven innings of work as the Chieftains beat Mountain View 6-1.