Clutch Hitting Propels Warriors Past Beavers in Scatter Creek Showdown


ROCHESTER — Before the rain invaded the Pacific Northwest this weekend, for one Saturday afternoon in South Thurston county, the sun shined down on the Scatter Creek Showdown between 2A Rochester and 1A Tenino, and in a back and forth affair in Rochester, the Warriors came out on top in extra innings, 10-9, in both teams’ season opener. 

The Warriors (1-0) got off to a hot start with three runs in the opening frame, but fell behind by multiple runs twice, and came back both times to secure the rivalry victory on their home grass. 

After overcoming a four run deficit to send the game into extra innings, the Warriors fell behind again in the eighth inning after Austin Gonia smacked a two-run double to push the Beaver lead to two.  

But a wiley Rochester squad never gave in, with Hayden Pietras hitting a two-run triple to tie the game with one out, and Tony Groninger smacking the game-winning single on the very next at-bat to send Pietras, and the Warriors, home winners. 

“We sat on those runs until the sixth and we had way too many fly ball outs,” Warriors coach Brad Quarnstrom said. “You have to put the ball on the ground and make them field it, throw it, and catch it. We luckily were able to square a few balls at the end there to get it done.”

Groninger finished 3 for 4 with a run and the game-winning RBI, while Pietras finished 2 for 4 with two runs batted in and a triple. 

Pitching was a mixed bag for both squads, as both teams’ hurlers struggled with live reps and situations and throwing strikes consistently. 

For Tenino, coach Ryan Schlesser said it was the difference Saturday afternoon.

“We struggled to throw strikes, we looked like it was our first game out, and it was,” he said. “It looked like our first game. We have some things we need to work on, but really what it comes down to is consistently throwing strikes.”

For the Beavers, freshman Austin Gonia traded in his basketball sneakers for baseball cleats with ease, going 3 for 4 with three runs batted in and two runs scored. His two-run double in the eighth inning briefly gave T90 a lead until Rochester’s final push in the bottom of the inning. 

For a young squad, Saturday’s opener obviously isn’t the result they want, but will only help them down the line with multiple underclassmen starters, including Gonia. 

“He’s going to be big for us,” Schlesser said. “We’re young, we have a lot of learning to do. But if they can step up, we’ll have a decent year. It sucks losing, but to battle, we’re okay with battling. Those games will come in league where we can take this and build and win those games in league.”

For the Warriors, it was far from a perfect outing, but they did enough to get the job done and start the season in the win column. 

With postseason stakes back this season after a COVID-19 shortened spring season, opening up the season with a Scatter Creek Showdown win could be just what the doctor ordered for a Rochester squad looking to make noise in league this season. 

“Just fun to get out and get back after it,” Quarnstrom said. “A lot of things we can improve upon, but always feels good to come home with a W.”

The Warriors will host Montesano for their next game on Tuesday, while the Beavers (0-1) look to bounce back against Toledo on Monday.