Tigers start fast, top Wolves to snap league losing streak


TUMWATER — Eleven days ago, the Centralia Tigers gave up eight runs in the first two innings of a loss to Shelton.

Centralia coach Jake LeDuc wasn’t pleased with how the first couple of innings played out, though he did note he liked what he saw after the beginning of the game. He said that if the Tigers could clean up the sloppy starts, they’d be able to string together some wins.

Shelton scored four in the first three days later, but since then, the Tigers have started strong in three of their last four games, including a 15-2 win at Black Hills on Tuesday.

The Tigers (5-7, 2-5 2A EvCo) came out swinging against the Wolves (3-7, 2-6 2A EvCo), scoring three runs in the first inning to take a 3-0 lead.

Brady Sprague shut down Black Hills in the bottom half, and the Tigers added another in the second to push the lead to 4-0.

"Sometimes it’s easier being the road team and jumping out right away,” LeDuc said. “Brady coming out and throwing up a zero right away was big. We got our momentum, and we kept our momentum.”

The Wolves were able to close the gap with one in the second and one in the third, but after that, the offense went dormant.

“We just weren't able to respond the way we have in the past,” Black Hills coach Nicholas Mailhot said. “I expect we’ll do that tomorrow.”

The Tigers were just getting started offensively, however. In the fourth, they rattled off four hits to plate three more, including an RBI single from Hudson Waterfield and an RBI triple from Cohen Ballard.

After a scoreless fifth and a two-run sixth, Centralia poured it on in the seventh. A two-run double from Ballard kickstarted a six-run inning, one that also included a two-run double from Tucker Weaver and a Marcus Miller RBI single.

By the end of the game, six different Tigers had tallied multiple hits. Jon Leedy, Ballard, and Sprague, the top three hitters in the Centralia lineup, combined to go 9 for 14 at the plate with three extra-base hits.

“The spark is at the top,” LeDuc said. “When the top of your lineup is getting on, good things are gonna happen.”

The bottom half of the lineup also came through, as Weaver, Miller and Waterfield, the 6-7-8 hitters, combined to go 6 for 13 with four RBIs.

In addition to collecting two hits and scoring three runs, Sprague went the distance on the mound. He allowed three hits and two runs while walking five and striking out nine.

The win snaps a five-game league losing streak, and it puts the Tigers right back in the mix for the No. 4 spot in the EvCo.

With a couple of weeks remaining, Rochester, Aberdeen, Black Hills, and Centralia all have two league wins and are vying for the pigtail spot.

“This week and next week are the two most important weeks of the year,” LeDuc said. “If we come out and play the way we’re capable of, we can hopefully take control of that fourth spot … It’s anybody’s ballgame from four to seven.”

Mailhot echoed the same sentiment to his team after the game, and he noted that the Wolves will need to reset quickly before they face Centralia again tomorrow.

“Let’s flush everything and go compete tomorrow,” Mailhot said. “Trust each other as a team, make the plays, and see what happens. If we do that, we expect to have good outcomes.”