By Luke Olson
It’s hard for teams to win ball games when not many hits nor walks are registered for them.
It’s even harder when you give away a total of eight free passes on walks to the opposing team. This was the case for the Highline Bears on Tuesday evening (June 12) against the Walla Walla Sweets in a non-league road matchup.
The Bears only managed three hits offensively and did not register one walk from a stellar performance on the mound from the Sweets and blanked the Bears 4-0. Brayde Hirai of Walla Walla threw five shutout innings and the bullpen finished it off combining for a total of ten strikeouts on the night.
All night the Bears were wistfully waiting for their stagnant bats to come alive, but never really threated as they had one runner in scoring position and that came in the second inning after Armond Swanson III would lead off the inning with a single. Couple outs later Brenden Duncan would get hit by the pitch and Clay Spacher had a chance to put a run on the board with Swanson at second. But, would strikeout swinging to end the inning.
“Offense is struggling for sure,” head coach Josh Evans said. “It is obvious when you look at the stats. Lots of good pitching in this schedule we play.”
How do you fix this offensive slump?
“One adjustment is getting the front foot down and looking to hammer some fastballs early in the count,” Evans said. “Just have to be more aggressive and make the physical adjustments when needed. This team will come around—just a matter of time.”
Starting pitcher for the Bears Cameron Jenkins did not have his best performance on the night, but grinded out five innings with only two runs given up—all earned. Jenkins surrendered six of the team issued eight walks.
“Jenkins had a good outing in my opinion. Struggled with locating his pitches and getting the first pitch strike,” Evans commented. “But him being a competitor—he used his defense and held them to a couple of runs. Just wish our offense could have gave him some run support and allow him to pitch with a lead.”
Down 2-0 in the bottom of the eight, the Bears got in an enduring jam.
Jarrett Hite let each of his first three batters advance safely with a single, a hit-by-pitch, and a walk. But, the Bears forced a 5-2-3 double play without allowing any runners to score.
“The ground ball was exactly what we planned on and executed it perfectly.” Evans said.
But, things went from good to bad quickly.
Hite let a fastball that had just a bit to much movement get away from Simmons behind the plate. Runner on third advanced to score to make it 3-0.
Hite would follow with a walk and get pulled for Mason Harris to get the last out. With runners on first and third, the Sweets attempted to steal second, but didn’t get the jump early enough and ended up in a pickle. The Bears got the out but the runner on third would cross home.
“All I got to say on that is we gotta control the baseball and slow down the game and play our game in that situation,” Evans said. “Although we got the out, our focus should of been on the lead runner on that play in the future.”
“We are going to keep competing and putting in the extra work. No doubt in my head, we will turn this season around.”
Next, the Bears once again face the Sweets in Walla Walla today – Wed., June 13 – with the first pitch set for 6:35 p.m.
Their next home game will be against the North Sound Emeralds this Friday, June 15, with the first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. at Mel Olsen Field in White Center (map below).
ALSO…don’t forget that this Saturday night is Buntly Bobblehead Night! FREE BunTly Bobbleheads to the first 200 fans!
More info here:
- Tickets: https://highlinebears.isportstix.com 
- Website: http://www.highlinebears.com/ 
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/highlinebears/ 
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/HighlineBears/ 
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/highlinebears/ 
- Listen to the games live here: http://mixlr.com/highline-bears/