RIDGEFIELD — Another day, another sixth-inning surge and come-from-behind effort was the latest showcase of Columbia River’s clutch play this postseason.
This time, the Rapids faced a one-run deficit against Tumwater midway through Friday’s Class 2A district championship, but capitalized during a hectic stretch in the bottom of the sixth that yielded four runs to help seal a 5-2 win for the district title.
“There’s just no quit in this team,” said senior catcher Adam Deeney, River’s leadoff hitter who finished 2-for-3. “Everyone here is ready to step up, one hit at a time, one walk. I mean, we’ve taken advantage of everything, errors, walks, bloop singles and then every once in a while, a double comes along and blows it open. Everyone wants to be the guy.”
The rain was constant and unrelenting at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex, before, during and after the two-hour game, but ultimately, the Rapids handled it.
Two nights ago against W.F. West in the semifinals, it was an offensive onslaught for River (18-4) that produced seven runs in the sixth.
The latest sixth-inning stretch featured just one hit, a Sam Boyle single, that helped get runners to second and third base after a Tumwater (17-6) throwing error.
River was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and a walk tied the game at 2-2. Each of River’s next three runs came across on passed balls, allowing Boyle, Cole Backlund and Henry Palmersheim to score.
“We didn’t play our best … we pitched very well, but offensively we only had three hits,” River head coach Stephen Donohue said. “In that sixth inning, we grinded out some at-bats and got some walks. It’s wet out here, they threw some wild pitches and we did a great a job on some down-angle reads.”
“Sixth inning, again. We scored seven the other night and four tonight, so I guess it’s our lucky inning lately.”
Left-handed pitcher Noah Larson got the start for River, pitching five innings with five strikeouts, three walks and one earned run while limiting Tumwater to three hits.
It was the longest outing of the season for the sophomore, who’s been nursing an injured knee for much of the season. His previous long was a four-inning relief stint against Hudson’s Bay.
Donohue, however, decided to start him Friday because one, he figured a lefty could be tough to hit for Tumwater, and two, expected Larson to handle the moment well.
“He’s just a cool customer,” Donohue said. “When he’s on the mound, when he’s hitting, nothing really gets to him. Being a sophomore, sometimes you think that would get to a guy, but he doesn’t ever really show it.”
Deeney added: “That kid’s a competitor, he’s been waiting for this opportunity all season long and he did not disappoint.”
For Tumwater, Alex Overbay pitched five innings with 10 strikeouts, three walks, four hits and one earned run allowed.
Brayden Oram led the Thunderbirds’ offense by going 2-for-3 with a double.
With a state regional berth already wrapped up with Wednesday’s win over W.F. West, River now heads into next week with a little extra momentum and no shortage of tight, grind-it-out postseason experience that will be needed to make a run.
“That’s state-level baseball,” Deeney said. “That’s what we’re going to need every game for the rest of the year. Four games to do it, and we’re going to be playing the best of the best each time. Got to be able to grind one out.”
COLUMBIA RIVER 5, TUMWATER 2
Tumwater 100 100 0—2 6 2
Columbia River 100 004 x—5 5 1
Pitching — Alex Overbay 5 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 7 K, 3 BB; Brayden Oram 0.2 IP, 4 R, 1 H, 4 BB; Trenton Gaither 0.1 IP, 0 R, 0 H; Highlights — Andrew Myer 1-1 1R SB; Kyler Collier 1-3; Oram 2-3 2B 1R SB; Graysen Reveal RBI; Briar Finney 1-3; Derek Thompson 1-2.
Pitching — Noah Larson 5 IP, 2 R (1 ER), 3 H, 5 K, 2 BB; Zach Ziebell 2 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 1 K, 1 BB; Highlights — Adam Deeney 2-3 1R; Chris Parkin 1-3 RBI SB; Casey Struckmeier 1R; Sam Boyle 1-3 1R; Cole Backlund 1R; Henry Palmersheim RBI 1R; Kaeden Buhrmester 1-1 2B.