Cougars drop games to Colville, Lakeside
The Chewelah High Cougars’ baseball season came to an end last weekend with losses to Colville and Lakeside in the Northeast A League/Caribou Trail League District playoffs in Wenatchee.
The Cougars had won four in a row before Saturday’s games, including wins over Colville and Lakeside to annex the District 7 championship. But the Cougars couldn’t find the formula to advance to the regional playoffs on May 19.
Head coach Luke Jeanneret knows how ballplayers can be hot and cold and he felt that cycle might have been in play for most of his team.
“I think we hit a peak in the district playoffs and a bit of a valley in the bi-districts, Jeanneret said.
Joey Baker played another pair of great games at the hot corner (third base) for the Cougars and his efforts in these final games of the graduating senior’s career haven’t been overlooked.
“He’s had the games of his life,” said coach Jeanneret. “I’m real proud of all my players, but he’s played some great ball down the stretch.”
Another top performer for the Cougars has been senior centerfielder Calvin Connell. Jeanneret said that Connell has been impossible to get out the entire postseason and since last Tuesday, has gone 13 for 17 at the plate with six extra base hits.
Even though the Cougars are losing half a dozen seniors off this team, coach Jeanneret is looking forward to next year.
“We’ve got a lot of good ballplayers coming back; we don’t have to rebuild, just reload.”
In game one last Saturday at Wenatchee High School, Chewelah faced Colville for the fifth time this season. There were very few surprises awaiting either team.
Colville started left-hander Chris Boggs and the Cougars scored a first inning run off Boggs with a Caleb Wiebe double.
In the top of the second, Colville wasted no time answering the Chewelah run with four runs of their own. Colville loaded the bases with no one out on Wiebe and second baseman Dalton Streibeck came up with the big hit for the Indians, a two-run double that gave Colville a 2-1 lead.
The Indians tacked on two more runs with consecutive squeeze bunts by Journey Young and Jessie Morrison and took a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the second.
Boggs got the first out, but walks to Ty Curtis and Joey Baker brought an early end to the big sophomoer’s day on the mound. He was relieved by Tevyn Holling, who managed to get out of the jam with no runs scoring.
All was quiet until the bottom of the fourth, when the Cougars touched up Holling for a couple of runs. A throwing error by catcher J.R. Henry allowed Dustin Olson to score and Calvin Connell hit an RBI double to cut the Indians’ lead to 4-3.
In the top of the fifth, Colville put together four straight hits, including RBI doubles by Henry and Sam Sprague to again give the Indians a three run lead at 6-3.
From there it was Holling’s game. The Cougars managed to put a runner on in the next three innings, but never seriously threatened again and Colville came away with the victory.
Wiebe took the loss, throwing a complete game, striking out three, giving up all six runs on seven hits and one walk.
Coach Jeanneret felt that Wiebe pitched well, but uncharacteristically left some pitches up in the strike zone.
“I’m not going to make excuses for him, but I’m sure there were some nerves involved there,” Jeanneret said of his starter.
Tevyn Holling pitched 5 2/3 innings of relief for the win, giving up two runs on three hits, while striking out five and walking four.
Loser out—winner to regional tournament
So the Cougars moved on to the third place game against the Lakeside Eagles, who had just lost to unbeaten Cashmere, 4-2.
Once again, the Cougars came out fast, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning to take a 3-0 lead.
Once again, the Cougars allow runs in the following inning, giving Lakeside two unearned runs in the top of the second with two out.
“We let them back in the game,” said coach Jeanneret. “We had them ready to fold, but those two runs gave them new life.”
Chewelah added one more run, but the Eagles bled Cody Sweat for three more runs and lead 5-4 going into the bottom of the sixth when the Cougars missed out on a great opportunity to tie the game.
Connell led off the inning with a triple, but a pop-out by Brandon Smith, line-out by Dillon Bigler and a groundout by Wiebe stranded Connell on third.
Chewelah still trailed 5-4 going into the bottom of the seventh and let one more great scoring chance slip through their fingers.
Cougars load bases with no outs
The Cougars loaded the bases with no one out but were unable to score. A fly ball out to right-field couldn’t score the runner from third, and then a failed squeeze play made it two out. With two runners on and two out, Cody Sweat hit a drive to center-field. Lakeside centerfielder Jon Bennett got a great jump on the ball and made a shoestring catch to end the game.
“As a coach, that was a tough one.” Jeanneret admitted. “But all in all, we played a pretty good game. A little better execution and we could have won that one, but hey, that’s baseball.”
Colville lost the championship game to Cashmere and will play in Moses Lake (Larson Field) on Saturday at 1 p.m., while Lakeside will be back in Wenatchee for a 1 p.m. game against Kiona-Benton. All games are loser out at this point.