Tigers let late lead slip in season-ending loss to Panthers


Everything was looking up for Napavine.

After five innings on Saturday, the Tigers led by five, and they were just six outs away from a trip to Ephrata and the 2B Final Four.

Instead, it all came crashing down in the final innings, as River View scored nine straight to take the lead, and Napavine’s seventh-inning rally fell short in a 9-7 loss.

I basically told them at the end they had nothing to hang their heads about,” Napavine head coach Brian Demarest said. “Sometimes against good teams, weird things like that happen. They got hot that sixth inning and put it to us.

“That’s probably the best team we’ve played all year, one-through-nine. They were tough.”

The Tigers jumped on top in the bottom of the first, as Conner Holmes gave the Tigers the lead with an RBI single before two more came across on a fielder’s choice and an error later in the inning.

Cal Bullock pushed the lead to 4-0 in the fourth with an RBI single of his own, and a Grady Wilson RBI triple made it 5-0 in the fifth.

“We had a good scouting report and I thought our kids executed the plan almost to perfection,” Demarest said.

Things began to unravel in the sixth, when the first two Panthers reached on an error and a walk. After an out, three straight hits brought home the first three River View runs, and three batters later, Dre Dimond cleared the bases with a three-run double to give the Panthers their first lead.

Nate Clinton cleared the bases again with a triple in the seventh, plating the last three of nine straight River View runs.

(Ashton) did a really good job of changing speeds and keeping them off balance,” Demarest said. “Whether he got tired or hit a wall, he lost command of his curveball. He was throwing more fastballs and they were barreling things up.”

Napavine didn’t go quietly in the bottom of the seventh, as Peyton Norris and Beckett Landram drove in runs to trim the deficit to 9-7, but a groundout stranded the tying runs in scoring position and the winning run on first.

Bullock finished 3 for 5 at the plate, while Landram and Wilson each collected two hits. All three drove in a run, as did Holmes and Jack Nelson.

The Tigers finish their season 21-5 and are set to graduate four seniors: Ashton Demarest, Holmes, Josh Schlect, and Silas Bissonnette.

“This senior group is a special group. They’ve been key cogs since they’re sophomore year,” Demarest said. “Moving forward, I feel really good where we’re at.”