Centralia baseball coach weary of walk-offs

mwochnick@theolympian.comApril 26, 2013 

The Centralia Tigers are Lewis County’s Walk-off Wonders.

The Tigers have kept first-year baseball coach Rex Ashmore’s heart rate up thanks to six walk-off games this spring.

“It definitely wears me down,” Ashmore said with a chuckle.

Centralia is 9-8 overall going into today’s 6:30 p.m. home game against Capital but easily could be below .500 if not for victories in three of the walk-off games. The Tigers were involved in three straight walk-off games from April 9 through 15. On April 11, they beat Capital, 5-4, on Patrick Neely’s walk-off single in the seventh. And on April 15, they earned a 2-1 eight-inning win over Tumwater when John Sharkey scored on Brandon Conradi’s sacrifice fly.

Ashmore, a Centralia graduate who coached at Adna for the past 15 seasons before taking over at his alma mater, hasn’t seen anything like it.

“I’ve probably never seen more than five or six walk-offs in 15 years of coaching, let alone six one-run games in one year,” he said.

With the Tigers’ offense

occasionally struggling to score runs, Ashmore credits the pitching staff, led by Conradi, Derek Putman, and Justin Reyna, with much of the team’s success.

Centralia is fourth in the 2A Evergreen Conference standings with two regular-season games remaining. The 2A Southwest District IV tournament, hosted by Centralia and W.F. West, begins May 7 with the top-five teams in the standings advancing to the tourney.

“We’re still find out ourselves, even now,” Ashmore said. “I think the kids have responded well.”

TIGERS HONOR ’93 TEAM

Centralia High will honor its 1993 state championship baseball team Friday against Capital with a pregame ceremony, coinciding with Senior Night festivities at 6 p.m. at Ed Wheeler Field. The Centralia-Capital game will follow at 6:30 p.m. The ’93 team, which featured current major leaguer Lyle Overbay, defeated Shorecrest, 4-0, in the 2A state title game. Overbay is in his 13th big league season and is currently playing for the New York Yankees.

Tigers coach Ashmore, who was an assistant at Centralia in ’93, said nine members of the team will be in attendance – including former head coach Randy Elam, now the coach at Cheney.

“It’s a way to recognize them and to try to get the kids back involved with the program,” Ashmore said.

SHELTON INVITE SATURDAY

One of the state’s largest track and field meets – the 53rd Shelton Invitational – begins at 1 p.m. Saturday at Shelton High’s Highclimber Stadium. The premier race of the meet will be the boys 400 meters, featuring Foss’ Marcus Chambers (Oregon signee), who is the nation’s leader in the event at 46.62 seconds, and Tumwater’s Andrew Brown (UW signee). Chambers (3A) and Brown (2A) are the defending state champions in the 400 in their respective classifications.

NOTES

For the third straight year, Capital and North Thurston will play a non-league baseball game at Cheney Stadium, home of the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers. The game is at 1 p.m. Saturday. ... Rainier girls basketball coach Jim Kindle resigned last week after coaching the Mountaineers for three seasons. ... Air Force extended a scholarship offer to Olympia senior Brendan Leonard on Tuesday. Leonard averaged 10.4 points and 6.5 rebounds a game this past season.

Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 mwochnick@theolympian.com theolympian.com/southsoundsports

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