With Black Hills High School one out away from clinching its second berth to a state baseball tournament in program history, third baseman Nik Quartano chased a foul ball near the Centralia dugout that ended up glancing off his glove and hitting him in the face, forcing him to leave the game.
Moments later, Eric Jordan completed a tough two-inning save by forcing Centralia’s two-sport star, Hodges Bailey, to ground out with the bases loaded, giving the Wolves an 11-7 win, and a guaranteed trip to the Class 2A state regionals.
“That’s when I decided to play it safe,” Black Hills coach Todd Venable said.
The Wolves had another game remaining on Monday at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey against Columbia River to determine the third and fourth seeds from the 2A Southwest District.
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Venable inserted several backup players into the starting lineup, and used 15 players total, and the Chieftains outslugged Black Hills, 14-8, to claim the third seed.
Black Hills (13-8) will meet North Kitsap on Saturday in Auburn in a single-elimination regional game.
“The ball was wet, the field was wet, we already had a couple of guys hurt,” Venable said. “We figured, we’re going to state, let’s get there in one piece. We also used the chance to get guys we may need down the road an at-bat or two.”
With the Southwest District being the only district still playing after weather suspended play on Saturday, Black Hills knew it would be scouted, and indeed North Kitsap’s staff was on hand to observe.
In the seeding game, the Wolves took a 3-1 lead after one inning thanks to singles by Alex Bowden and Sam Flaisig. Flaisig’s hit drove in two, and was the first of three he had on the rainy night.
“Sam was one of the kids who hasn’t played a lot, but came up big tonight,” Venable said.
But Columbia River batted around to take a 6-3 lead in the second and Black Hills chased the Chieftains the rest of the way.
Josh Rodgers came off the bench and doubled in the fourth, driving in two runs, but the Wolves never got closer than three runs.