By Luke Olson Things were rolling quite smoothly for starting pitcher Colin Cortez until a fifth inning debacle that began with a one-out homer by the Kent Bulldogs. That homerun started a seven-run rally for Kent to take a commanding 7-1 lead. Cortez yielded a walk to his next batter—but got the second out with a strikeout. The Bulldogs continued the momentum, taking advantage of a hit-by-pitch and a couple of walks that later led to a two-out single to center to clear the bases. It proved to be the difference on a crowded Saturday night at Mel Olsen stadium in which the Highline Bears fell, 10-6. “Struggle all around,” head coach Josh Evans commented. “Got in our own heads—the issue at the beginning of the game kind of put a damper on things from the get go. They weren’t really mentally prepared for anything.” The issue at the beginning of the game was not having umpires present for the 7:05 p.m. start. It was pushed back to 7:35 p.m. and both teams were forced to use their assistant coaches as the umpires. Cortez eventually was pulled for Trey Evans, who struggled right from the get go–walking three batters in a row. It could have gone worse for the Bears, as a hard liner was hit to Colton Robinson and was bobbled a few times in the air before he was finally able to get a firm grasp on the ball to get them out of the bases loaded jam. Cortez finished his night with 4 2/3 innings pitched, seven runs (all earned) three hits, five walks and six strikeouts. “First four innings were good,” Cortez said. “Kind of wish I could have thrown more strikes—got the batters out when I needed to. Had at least one guy get on each inning.” He was breezing through the game until he surrendered his first hit of the game—the solo homerun to deep right center. Did that hurt his mentality for that catastrophic inning? “Maybe a little bit,” Evans stated. “Young kid gets a hit like that—definitely gets in his head a bit, but as he grows as a player, he is definitely going to have to learn how to deal with the homeruns and come back with strikes.” Cortez did not think so. “It really didn’t get into my mentality,” he said. “Maybe a little bit when I got a guy on after.” Highline was prolific in getting runners on base early. Innings two through six, they got the lead batter on base but were not able to capitalize as much as they would have liked. In the sixth, after Robinson led his team off with a double over the center fielders head, he later scored after the shortstop bobbled the transition when Bryce Beck stole second to cut the Bulldogs lead to five. The Bears had two on base with no outs–but did not advance until Brenden Duncan’s two-out walk to get them loaded. Blaine Wagner struck out to end Highline’s chances to add more runs. “We were definitely pressing the entire game thinking that ‘we have to get this hit-we have to get this hit’ knowing we have the ability to do it. And when you press—and try to hard—baseball usually doesn’t go your way.” They often used their speed to get them into position to score when the lead batter got on base. They had a total of eight stolen bases—two from Robinson, Beck and Carter Wallace. It was in the game plan for Evan’s team to get out of the double play position. “We were trying to run on the bases a lot more,” he said. “Be more aggressive and getting the pitcher timed up and looking for his certain looks that we can steal on and we did it pretty well tonight.” The Bears twice scored on a wild pitch. The first came in the bottom of the third that began with a hard single by Max Gardiner that barely squeezed by the third baseman. He stole second and Alex Bryner advanced him on a fielder’s choice. Highline wouldn’t need to do much else as the pitch bounced into the dugout for Gardiner to trot home with ease. In the ninth, Highline grabbed a couple runs with a pair of singles from pitch hitter Chase Anderson and Wallace. Robinson, Wallace and Duncan each had two hits for the Bears. Tate Wallat of the Bulldogs brought in five of Kent’s ten runs. His bases clearing single off of Cortez in the fifth and two run single in the eighth. The team’s July schedule is here. ]]>

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