RIDGEFIELD — Nick Alder came full circle on Tuesday.
Eight days after the frustration of giving up a go-ahead three-run home run to Ridgefield’s Wyatt Bartroff, the controversial call that led to Columbia River’s 5-4 loss to the Spudders, the appeal that was heard but then denied, and the league tiebreaker that dropped the Rapids all the way to the fourth seed into district, Alder was on the mound again facing Bartroff, this time with the Spudders’ slugger facing the potential tying run in 2A district baseball playoff game.
And this time, there was no frustration for Alder and the Rapids.
Alder struck out Bartroff for the final out to preserve a 4-2 win, sending the Rapids to the 2A district semifinals on Friday back at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Center.
“I’m on Cloud Nine right now,” Alder said. “I love playing with these guys, and that was one of best games I’ve ever played with them.”
Starting the game at shortstop, the senior had two RBI singles as River built a 3-0 lead into the fifth.
But the Spudders mounted a rally in the bottom of the fifth, scoring their first run on a triple by Nick Radosevich followed by a double by Drew Harteloo.
After the Spudders loaded the bases with no outs, River coach Stephen Donohue called on Alder to pitch.
Ridgefield scored a second run on a fielder’s choice before Alder got the Spudders to pop up and line out to his infielders to end the threat.
“Once Number 5 gets on the mound, we feel like we’re going to win the game,” Donohue said. “He had a little sour taste that he wasn’t able to finish the job here last week. I just had a feeling, knowing who he is. He had two RBIs, two singles, that just shows how good he is. I think he’s the best player in the league.”
Alder retired the Spudders in order in the sixth. After River added an insurance run in the seventh on Sam Boyle’s RBI single, Alder struck out the first two batters in the seventh before Aidan Hundt singled to center.
That brought up Bartroff representing the potential tying run.
“Last week, I definitely felt like they were jumping on the fastball early,” Alder said. “So I wanted to mix that up a little bit. And I give credit to (our) pitching coach Korey Kier. He really helps me out with that.”
But he expected that Bartroff would be expecting something soft, so Alder returned to his fastball.
“He took me yard last time, and I wanted to get him back,” Alder said. “So I attacked him. I got up on him early, which was exactly what we wanted to do.”
Alder would strike out Bartroff to seal another thrilling win. In the opening round Friday, River had to score twice in the seventh to beat Mark Morris.
Now the Rapids will face W.F. West on Friday.
“Not getting a run at state this year, I think the guys are excited they get the chance to play two of the best programs in the state at district,” Donohue said.
And after an eventful week, that feels great to Alder.
“I can’t (explain) how much it means to us, to battle through the way we have,” Alder said. “We wanted that perfect season. We didn’t get it. So we had to put our head down and work a little harder. We had to grind a game out on Friday to get to play this game we wanted on Tuesday. So to win it is huge.”
COLUMBIA RIVER 4, RIDGEFIELD 2
Columbia River 010 110 1—4 9 1
Ridgefield 000 020 0—2 5 2
Pitching — Sam Boyle 4 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 7 K, 2 BB; Casey Struckmeier 0 IP, 1 R, 2 H; Nick Alder 3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 5 K, 2 BB ; Highlights — Alder 2-4 2RBI SB; Sawyer Parkin 1-4 1R SB; Struckmeier 2-2 2B 1R 2-SB; Boyle 1-4 RBI; Bretty Runyon 1-2 1R; Jordan Wiggins 2-3 2B; Chris Parkin 1R.
Pitching — Derek Kropp 5 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 6 H, 8 K, 1 BB; Easton Ortega 2 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 1 K; Highlights — Drew Harteloo 2-4 2B RBI 1R; Fry 1-3; Aiden Hundt 1-4 RBI; Nick Radosevich 1-3 3B 1R.