Just as Ryan Krout wrapped his hands around the bag to ensure the tying run touched home plate for Washougal, Brandon Casteel took a risk to score the winning run and succeeded Monday.
Tyler Bowlin induced a strikeout, flyout and groundout, and the Panthers celebrated a 6-5 victory against Mark Morris in their own backyard. This is the first time Washougal has defeated Mark Morris in a baseball game in more than a decade.
“I think we’ve played them seven times since I’ve been here, and they 10-runned us five times,” said head coach Greg Lewis.
“That’s all right here,” he added as he touched his heart. “There’s lots of competitors out here.”
Mark Morris scored two runs in the first inning and three more in the third inning to build a 5-1 advantage, but the Panthers didn’t roll over. The Monarchs threatened again with runners on first and third base with two outs in the top of the fifth inning. Krout and the next batter fought to a full count, before the Washougal pitcher struck him out.
Casteel led off the bottom of the fifth with a single and stole second base. Blaine Bea brought Casteel home with a single. Bea came around to score on a two-out single by Kirk Brown.
Bowlin came in to pitch for Krout. The defense behind him turned a double play to end the top of the sixth inning.
Michael Hickey extended the bottom of the sixth with an infield hit that got away from the pitcher. Casteel roped a double to put two runners in scoring position. Krout beat the throw to first to allow Hickey to score. Casteel’s aggressiveness paid off when he slid past the tag at home plate to put the Panthers up 6-5.
“It felt great to take the lead right there,” Krout said. “We were gritty the whole game.”
Casteel believes anybody on this team would have taken the chance to score. He just happened to be the one.
“It was either going to work or it wasn’t,” he said. “You got to take risks if you want to win. For it to work this time was just awesome.”
Casteel and Kaden Corbitt both drove in two runs to help Washougal beat Woodland 5-4 Thursday. Casteel pitched five solid innings for the victory. Bowlin finished the Beavers off in the last two innings to earn the save.
Casteel traveled to Newberg, Ore., Friday to sign on to play football for George Fox University. He was thrilled to be one of the 40 new recruits at the table.
“I never thought I would get the opportunity to play football at the next level,” Casteel said. “Just because Washougal is a small school, there’s still a lot of talent here and colleges are paying attention. If I can get recruited, anybody from Washougal can. You just have to work hard for it.”
Casteel said the only blemish was seeing Washougal lose to Hudson’s Bay 11-1 in his absence. He and the Panthers got back on track Monday. Today, there’s another game to play at Ridgefield. First pitch is at 4 p.m.
“Remember how this feels,” Lewis told the Washougal baseball players. “Let’s come back tomorrow and be competitors again.”