Rain delayed the start of Timberline’s season-ending 4-3 loss to Skyline in the Region III 4A baseball playoffs Saturday at Foss High School.
The stage was set for a sloppy game.
But the Blazers played errorless ball — even though the rain continued throughout — and had the tying run on base in the seventh. Timberline fell to timely hitting by the Spartans and the defensive play of the game, a laser throw to the plate by left fielder Dax Kringle in the fifth.
Skyline moved on to the state semifinals after defeating Cascade of Everett, 9-5, later in the day. Timberline is out, but not before putting together a quality, 15-9 season.
“We had a good year,” said Blazers coach Mark Rubadue. “The kids played hard, they practiced hard. They wanted to be good, and they were rewarded for their effort.”
Early in Saturday’s game, it appeared that reward might include a deeper run into the state tournament.
After falling behind 1-0, Timberline took the lead with a three-run, third-inning rally.
Tucker Stroup led off with a walk, and reached third when Lucas Reid beat out a chopper to shortstop and Skyline first baseman Cole Hinkelman let the throw get away. Reid stole second, putting runners at second and third with no outs. Designated hitter Cody Kartman grounded to shortstop Danny Sinatro, who threw home too late to catch Stroup.
Starting pitcher Austin Whalen helped his own cause with a double over Kringle’s head that scored Reid, and Kartman scored on a groundout by Ben Whitt.
In the bottom of the third, Sinatro hit a homer over the 305-foot sign in the right field corner, the Spartans scored again on a RBI single by Hinkelman.
The fifth inning proved pivotal.
In the top half, Kartman led off with a double to left. With Whalen batting, a breaking ball by Spartans reliever Jack Rooney got away from catcher Ben Smith and Kartman dashed for third. Smith’s throw sailed into left field and Kartman headed home, but was nailed by a strong throw by Kringle.
“Just a perfect throw,” said Rubadue, who was coaching third base. “He had to make a perfect throw and he did.”
The Blazers never got another runner into scoring position.
Kringle continued his heroics in the sixth when he drove in his second run of the day and it turned out to be the game-winner.
Timberline went down battling, catching two bad breaks in the seventh.
Stroup led off and connected with what may have been the hardest-hit ball of the day — right at Skyline third baseman Connor Knutson. Reid followed with a bid for his third hit, a deep drive to center, but Alejandro Graterol ran it down. Kartman walked to put the tying run aboard, but Timberline couldn’t get him around.
Timberline 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 – 3 4 0
Skyline 1 0 2 0 1 0 X – 4 9 2
WP – Jack Rooney. LP – Lucas Reid. T – Reid 2-4 (R, SB), Cody Kartman 1-3 (2B, R, RBI), Austin Whalen 1-3 (2B, RBI). S – Danny Sinatro 1-3 (HR, RBI). Connor Knutson 2-3 (2R, SB), Dax Kringle 2-2 (2B, 2RBI).