Centralia Auto Center Revives in 12-run Fourth Inning 


Centralia Auto Center exploded for a 12-run fourth inning to erase a five-run deficit and come away with a 12-7 victory over the visiting Tenino Trappers Tuesday at Ed Wheeler Field.

Centralia was held scoreless and hitless in all innings except the fourth, where it pounded out all 12 runs and five hits it had on the day.

Soon-to-be senior first baseman Landon Kaut led Centralia at the plate, going 2 for 3 with four RBI and a run scored. Cole Wasson was 1 for 2 with two runs and Broc Ruege was 1 for 3 with two RBI and a run.

Tenino struck first, erupting for five runs in a small-ball third inning. Mason Lehman led off the inning with a hit-by-pitch, followed by Hunter Sweet’s bunt single, which set up Will Feltus’ RBI single to score Lehman and make it 1-0.

Brody Noonan’s RBI bunt single then scored Sweet from third to make it 2-0. Austin Gonia’s single loaded the bases, which allowed pinch-runner Easton Snider to score from third base on a wild pitch, making it 3-0.

Jack Burkhardt ripped a 2-run looping single to center field, scoring Gonia and Mikey Vassar to put the Beavers up 5-0.

“We focus on (small ball) pretty much every day,” Tenino coach Ryan Schlesser said. “We like putting pressure on the other team and making them play baseball.”

The lead was short-lived as Centralia Auto Center responded with a fourth-inning explosion, fueled by six walks, two hit-by-pitches and five hits.

Cohen Ballard reached on an infield error and Cole Wasson singled before Ballard scored on an overthrow to third base. Gabe Seymour walked and Wasson scored on a pickoff attempt of Seymour at second to cut Tenino’s lead to 5-2.

Tucker Weaver walked before Kaut smashed his first of two two-run singles to score Seymour and Weaver.

Ruege smacked a two-run double to score Kaut and Blake Seymour and give Centralia the lead for good. Camden Gonzo walked and then scored on a wild pitch, Ruege scored on a bases-loaded walk and Von Wasson and Cole Wasson each scored on bases-loaded hit-by-pitches to make it 10-5.

Centralia wasn’t done yet as Kaut pounded out his second two-run double to score Weaver and Terrell Sanders and take a 12-5 lead.

Centralia coach Adam Riffe, who is also Centralia High School’s varsity coach, said it was nice to see his team respond after surrendering five runs the previous inning.

“They overcame a five-run deficit, came back and battled up,” Riffe said. “It was good.”

The Trappers tacked on another run to cut Centralia’s lead to 12-6 in the fifth inning on Burkhardt’s RBI single that scored Gonia from third. Burkhardt collected another RBI single in the top of the seventh inning to score Feltus and end the scoring at 12-7.

Riffe praised Ballard and Marcus Miller for their pitching performances. 

Miller got the start, allowing six hits and five earned runs with three strikeouts and three walks across four innings. Ballard pitched the final three innings, striking out four and allowing two earned runs on four hits.

“I asked (Ballard) to throw strikes and he did a great job doing that,” Riffe said. “Both those pitchers did really well today.”

Vassar started for the Trappers, allowing seven earned runs on five walks and two hits while striking out five in 3.1 innings. Easton Snider pitched ⅓ of an inning in relief, allowing three earned runs on five walks and a hit. Preston Snider pitched the final 1.1 innings, giving up one hit and no runs.

Burkhardt led the way offensively for the Trappers, going 3 for 4 with four RBI. Feltus was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run and Gonia went 3 for 4 with two runs. The Trappers tallied 11 total hits.

Schlesser said his team played well for the most part, other than the disastrous fourth inning.

“When you give up a 12 spot, you’re going to pretty much lose all the time,” Schlesser said. “I thought we played really well. Just take out the fourth and we looked pretty good. Can’t do anything when we walk a bunch of guys though.”

Schlesser praised the efforts of Noonan who, while playing injured, layed down a RBI drag bunt in the third inning to help spark the offense. He also commended Preston Snider for his pitching performance in relief.

“I’m happy where we’re at,” Schlesser said. “We’re really young and really great. We’re starting to show some signs of Tenino baseball, which I like to see.”

Both teams are a form of junior legion but not official junior legion, Riffe said. He has players ranging from seventh grade all the way up to 11th grade. After graduating eight seniors from his varsity team, this team allows him to evaluate players who will be filling in those open spots on varsity next spring.

“It’s good experience for my younger kids,” Riffe said. “That’s really what I want. Got a couple new kids who transferred in. My varsity team is wide open, so this is their chance to show me what they want to do.”