Highline Bears bats can’t keep up with Everett Merchants, falling 7-4


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By Luke Olson

No doubt, any delay in the game can throw off a player’s rhythm – especially for a pitcher. And when Nolan Smith of the Everett Merchants slid into third base on a base hit to right field, he sustained a serious injury to his wrist, forcing him out of the game.

The next batter, Ethan Smith, capitalized with a two out single to left field, taking a 5-3 lead over the Highline Bears. Starting pitcher Cameron Jenkins appeared to be throw off his tempo—not when he surrendered a two-run moon shot over the left field fence to tie the game, 3-3—but when he heard the pop of Smith’s injury he endured.

“It got me out of my mindset just a little bit,” Jenkins said. “I heard the kid’s wrist pop and I have heard stuff like that before and usually did not bother me, but that amount of time we had in that break kind of took me out of my rhythm a little bit. And I really couldn’t just settle back in where I wanted to.”

Jenkins walked his next batter and then yielded a double off the left field wall, that fortunately scored just one—as the runner rounding third slipped and had to race back toward third base. Jenkins left the game giving up six runs—five coming in that enduring inning alone and Highline could never recover, falling 7-4.

Head coach Josh Evans had thoughts about taking Jenkins out of the game during the break, as he was getting high on his pitch count.

“I actually considered pulling him after that right there because of the time in between,” Evans stated. “He was about 75-80 pitches at that time, so left him in and some guys got some hits off him and the momentum flipped their way.”

Highline’s offense did start off the right way—and early.

Cole Chambers’ doubled down the right field line, just past the reaching first baseman to score both runners in the bottom of the first. Back-to-back singles from Alex Bryner and Colton Robinson gave Chambers the opportunity to take advantage.

They later added another run in the bottom of the third, as Grayson O’Neil took a fastball into deep right center field with one out to bring Chambers in from first to extend the Bears lead, 3-1. A slight bobble of the right fielder had O’Neil turn on his wheels and stretch it into a triple.

But, after the fifth inning, the Bears had just one runner in scoring position—not giving themselves the opportunity for a comeback.

“Tough one to lose,” Evans said. “Left a lot of guys on base—didn’t execute with runners in scoring position and that is pretty much what the loss came from.”

The Merchants had a couple of miscues in the bottom of the fifth that the Bears took advantage of. With a runner at second and third—O’Neil hit a soft grounder back to the pitcher and he decided to get the out at third with Colton Robinson leading off the bag a bit too much and got himself into a pickle. Chambers trotted to third base from second—as he could sense the incoming result, but Robinson maneuvered his way back to third and Chambers rushed back to second as everyone was safe to load them up.

Moments later, Kealen Martin, pitch-hitting for Brenden Duncan—hit a grounder to short, but the transition at second for the double play was dropped to score Robinson, cutting the lead, 6-4.

Highline still had an opportunity with the bases loaded with one out—but both batters went down swinging.

“Couldn’t execute,” Evans said. “Things went our way with a dropped ball at second and the run-down at third base—just couldn’t execute.”

The Bears have not seen much of O’Neil and Chambers this season. Both made their first starts against the Seattle Studs yesterday–and in today’s game, showed how much their bats in the lineup was missed.

O’Neil had three hits—adding two singles along with his triple in the third. Chambers had the one double to bring in two runs–but got on base three times, two from a hit-by-pitch—and scored twice for Highline.

Both sustained injuries a while back and Evans says you can expect them to be “every day guys.”

The Bears next face the Everett Merchants on Monday, July 23.

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