All games are important throughout the baseball season, but none were more important than the Cruisers’ final game of the season against the Hoquiam Grizzlies.
The two teams split their two-game series earlier in the season and were tied for fourth place in league play. A win by either team would send them to the district playoffs, and a loss would end the other's season. It was also Senior Night for the four Cruiser seniors who were playing in what could be their last game.
With the season on the line, coach Doug Fillbach handed the ball to Payton Hanly to get the start on the mound for Eatonville. Hanly pitched the Cruisers to two of their four wins already this season. He did not disappoint.
In front of a large home crowd, the junior starter pitched 4.1 innings of three-hit ball while only giving up two runs and striking out five. He gave way to freshman Colton Herbrand, who had picked up one of the Cruiser wins earlier in the year, in the top of the fifth inning to finish the game. Herbrand held the Grizzlies scoreless for the final 2.2 innings to pick up his first career save as the Cruisers defeated the Grizzlies 3-2 to lock up fourth place in the 1A Evergreen League and clinch the No. 4 seed into the 1A SWW District Playoffs.
Offensively, Eatonville did all their damage early, scoring all three runs in the second inning.
Senior Joe Suver got the scoring started when he ripped a line drive to left field, driving in Copper Field, who had singled to start the inning. Brody Thirtyacre reached on an error by the third baseman that drove in Aaron Tozier, who had reached on an error earlier in the inning. Herbrand finished off the scoring when he drove a hard-hit ball past the shortstop to score Suver to give the Cruisers a 3-1 lead.
After scoring in the first, the Grizzlies pick up one more run in the fifth inning before Herbrand took over and shut them down.
Fillbach expressed his pride in his team.
"It was great to see our seniors come out and produce in their final home game,” he said. “We battled hard and earned this win. Payton and Colton were outstanding on the mound, and our offense came through when we needed it. We're excited to move on to the district playoffs and see what we can do. I'm proud of the team for finding a way to keep their season alive."
Eatonville will face tough competition in the district playoffs, but with the momentum from this win, Fillbach is optimistic about their chances.
Eatonville finishes the regular season with a 4-14 overall record, 2-10 in league play, and finished in fourth place.
The Cruisers headed to La Center Monday to take on the No. 1-seeded Wildcats out of the Tri-Co league in the first round of the district playoffs. Results were not available before publication.
EATONVILLE 3, HOQUIAM 2
Hoquiam 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 | 2 4 4
Eatonville 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 | 3 6 3
WP: P. Hanly; LP: J. Templer; SV: C. Herbrand
Highlights: J. Suver 1-3, R, RBI | C. Herbrand 1-3, RBI, SB | C. Field 1-3, R | B. Thirtyacre 0-3, RBI, SB
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