LACEY — Whether it was the cold, rainy weather or the opposition’s pitching or just early season jitters, Grays Harbor College never warmed up against Big Bend College on Saturday afternoon.
At the RAC in Lacey, the Chokers suffered a NWAC baseball non-divisional doubleheader sweep when the rain aided the Vikings’ first-game surge and a rough, self-inflicted start kept them away in the second game, 11-2 and 16-1, on Saturday.
On Sunday, GHC (1-3 overall) will take on Big Bend in another nine-inning doubleheader series at the RAC.
“We truly believe that we can compete with anyone,” first-year Grays Harbor head coach Mike Bruner said. “In our first game (of the season), it was incredible baseball. I honestly feel like we didn’t compete today. The pitchers have to throw strikes, invite contact and the defense needs to make plays. We need to get out of our own way. We just played tight today.”
Vikings 11, Chokers 2
Grays Harbor started well in the opening game when Zach Withrow’s RBI single nearly became a two-run single when Big Bend parlayed a favorable bounce on an overthrown ball to the backstop into an out in the top of the first inning. Freshman Jack Skinner scored the run in front of the hard-hop play at the plate.
However, the Chokers didn’t enjoy the lead for very long. An infield error and a few miscues extended the bottom of the first inning against GHC starter Tyson Johnson. With two outs, the Vikings scored three unearned runs, including a two-run triple by Nic Metcalf, to give Big Bend a 3-1 lead.
GHC’s best chance to tie the game came in the third inning. Sophomore Blake Kelly led off the inning with a double and appeared to move to third on a long fly ball out to right field. However, he was called out for leaving second base too early, emptying the bases for freshman Jacob Hliboki. One pitch later, Hliboki slugged a solo home run over the left-center field fence for a 3-2 score.
Hliboki had the best day at the plate for GHC with three hits, including the home run and a double, in the opener.
The skies opened up with a large downpour of rain, sleet and hale in the bottom of the fifth inning. With the Vikings up to bat at the time, they scored six runs in the frame to knock out Johnson from the mound and take the lead for good. Relief pitcher Brandon Rogers got the Chokers out of the inning, but not before a 9-2 deficit.
Reliever Nick Tebeau finished the day on the mound for GHC in the opener, giving up just one hit, but two earned runs in the eighth. Johnson took the loss, striking out three, walking one and giving up just four earned runs.
Vikings 16, Chokers 1
In the nightcap, this was a rough start that never smoothed out for Grays Harbor. GHC went through five pitchers in this contest, with just two of them finishing at least one inning of work. Big Bend slugged 12 hits to invoke the 10-run mercy rule after 4 1/2 innings.
Starter Garrett Bruns was hit for six runs in two-thirds of an inning, leaving with a 6-0 deficit in the bottom of the first inning for Dominic Barter. Barter laded two-thirds of an inning during Big Bend’s six-run second inning for Kelly Polk, who made it through 1 1/3 innings before leaving in the third inning.
Bradley Kramer lasted one inning before he left in the fourth for Koby Millner, who finished the inning for the Chokers.
GHC had just three hits in the contest, two of them from Wyatt Elledge, who scored the lone run on an errant pick-off throw to first base in the third inning.
“Tomorrow is a new day,” Bruner added. “We still believe we can go out, win 25 games and make it to the NWAC Tournament. That’s still an achievable goal. These guys will bounce back. These games don’t mean anything, except as a learning experience. It’ll give us something to look at and evaluate.”
GHC 101 000 000 — 2 8 2
BBC 200 060 02x — 11 12 1
Johnson, Rogers (5), Tebeau (6) and Chaffin; Pesicka, Mohavlich (7), Tate (7), Tunstall (9) and Rosman.
RBI: GHC — Withrow, Hliboki. Big Bend — English 2, Kallstrom 2, DeHoog 2, Metcalf 3, Rosman 2. Three hits: GHC — Hliboki. Two hits: GHC — Kelly. Big Bend — Glowicki, Kallstrom, DeHoog, Reisbeck. Home run: GHC — Hliboki. Big Bend — Kallstrom. Triple: Big Bend — Metcalf. Double: GHC — Hliboki, Kelly. Big Bend — English, Rosman.
Winning pitcher — Pesicka (one strikeout, two walks). Losing pitcher — Johnson (three strikeouts, one walk).
GHC 001 00 — 1 3 3
BBC 661 3x — 16 12 1
Bruns, Barter (1), Polk (2), Kramer (3), Millner (4) and Skinner; Sagmoen and Kvenvold.
Winning pitcher — Sagmoen (four strikeouts, two walks). Losing pitcher — Bruns (one strikeout, three walks).