Zach Carter, soaked in rain, grabbed a rake. He walked over to first base and started slogging through the dirt.
Minutes earlier, the umpires at the River Ridge High School baseball field deemed the conditions unplayable.
“We’re just trying to do everything we can to get (games) in, because next week doesn’t look any better,” River Ridge coach Chad Arko said.
Only one full inning was played Wednesday afternoon before a game between the Hawks and Highline was suspended without a makeup date.
The story has been similar for most lower South Sound teams this season — rainout and reschedule. This is the third time a game between River Ridge and Highline has been suspended this season.
“Whoever wins this game is in the driver’s seat,” Arko said. “There’s quite a bit riding on this game.”
The finale in the season series between the two teams could decide which program wins the Sound Division title in the Class 2A South Puget Sound League.
The Pirates will have a 4-0 lead in the top of the second whenever play does resume; they promptly headed for the parking lot between downpours after the game was called.
Meanwhile, Carter and his teammates continued working to repair the muddy infield.
“It’s very frustrating because we want to play,” said Carter, a senior pitcher and infielder. “Practice is fun, but we just want to come out here and do what we do.
“This year, we’ve got a solid team, and we just want to showcase what we can do, and beat teams, and go as far as we can.”
River Ridge (11-3, 9-1 2A SPSL Sound) tops the division right now, but dropped its only league game to the Pirates, 12-2, on Monday in Burien.
When this game is decided, a win over Highline (9-1, 8-1) would all but clinch the division for the Hawks. A loss would all but lose it.
“I think we’re going to have a little more fire, a little more urgency to come out and jump right on them, and not sit back on our heels,” Carter said.
A two-run RBI double from Christian Hagler in the first inning and a two-run shot over the left-field fence by Joshua Enciso have the Hawks in an early hole.
But, this is a group that can rally from a deficit, Arko said.
He’s entering his 17th season coaching River Ridge and said this is the best team the program has had since its 2009 squad advanced to the 2A state quarterfinals.
“We were hoping to make a run for a while, but this is the group we figured would get us going,” Arko said. “They’re doing a great job so far.”
The Hawks were on a five-game winning streak before Monday’s loss to Highline. They regrouped by shutting out Renton, 13-0, on Tuesday.
This is to be expected from a veteran group. River Ridge didn’t graduate any players from last year’s team, which advanced to the 2A state regionals. The same group played summer ball together.
“This has been our goal ever since we lost in July at the state tournament for summer ball,” Arko said. “We all walked away and said our goal is to make it to Yakima.”
Seven seniors — including Carter, who was an Olympian All-Area selection last season — are back to lead the team, and a handful of sophomores provide young talent.
“We think we have all the parts and pieces to make it work,” Carter said.
The Hawks have advanced to the state quarterfinals twice — in 2006 and 2009 — but never further.
“We can make it,” said River Ridge senior Ben Maratita, a pitcher and infielder. “We were the youngest team last year to go to state, so we can do it. We’ve just got to push.”