LONGVIEW — Big Bend hasn’t been to the NWAC Baseball Championships in 15 years, but they looked right at home on the big stage in Thursday’s 2-0 loss to Edmonds in the opening game at David Story Field in Longview.
Edmonds shortstop Yugo Hamakawa drove in a run in the bottom of the third and another in the fifth and that was the extent of the scoring for a couple of teams that stranded a combined 15 runners.
Pinch hitter Jayke Chavez, a freshman from Covington, showed a little bit of the team’s frustration in the top seventh when he turned and put his teeth marks into the bat after striking out to end the inning with runners at the corners.
“It was a pitcher’s game and we just didn’t get any timely hitting. That's baseball sometimes,” first-year Big Bend manager Jameson Lange said. “I think in this setting, if you’re able to put pressure on early and put up a number, it can totally change the dynamic of the rest of the game.”
The Vikings (31-20) did have their chances despite stranding six runners. In the third, catcher Dylan Miller (.182) gave them a jump-start with a single hitting out of the nine hole to start off the inning. Lead-off hitter Cody Banks, a Gold Glove winner and first-team all-East selection, singled to give the Vikings two aboard with a chance to draw first blood. But Big Bend couldn’t come up with the timely hit.
The Tritons (39-7) forced Miller at third on a ground ball to the left side. Edmonds pitcher Will Smith, who finished with five strikeouts, got a big one, striking out Ben Albrecht (.298) for the second out. Smith got out of the inning when Vikes cleanup hitter Trevor Luckey grounded out.
Lange changed his lineup for the West Super Region and has enjoyed the results of better productivity, moving Banks (.309) to the leadoff spot and moving English (.331), who went 2-for-4, up to No. 2. He moved Albrecht back to the three hole and settled with right-handed power hitter Luckey (.336) at the cleanup spot.
Jordan Moreno (3.38 ERA), who set the school record in single-game strikeouts with 15 during the regular season, pitched a gem in his first NWAC postseason game. The big right-hander from Las Vegas struck out four, walked four, allowed two runs and scattered six hits in the complete game.
Moreno pitched his way out of a jam in the bottom of seventh when Evan Hurn reached on an error with one out. He turned around and walked Tritons leadoff Guthrie Morrison, before getting Nic Sokol to fly out to English in center field for the second out. The Viking defense did a good job in holding the runners when Hamakawa (2-for-4, 2 RBI) singled to load the bases. Moreno, who threw 118 strikes to 35 batters faced, got a fly ball to end the inning.
The Vikings will play Lane Community College (24-26) in the 9:35 a.m. game today and will have to make its way back through the double-elimination tournament through the loser’s bracket.
“I told the guys, we’ve been playing East Region where three of the eight teams are here,” Lange said. “I said don’t let the outside distractions distract ya, just go out and have fun and enjoy the moment.”