The Washougal baseball team thunderstruck Mountain View for a 3-2 victory in the bottom of the eighth inning March 16, at Louis Bloch Park.
Both teams took a scoreless ball game into the fifth inning, before Mountain View scored a run in the fifth and another in the sixth. Washougal rallied with two runs in the bottom of the sixth, and then the game stretched into extra frames.
“You live for those extra inning games under the lights,” said WHS junior Nole Thompson.
Thompson led off the bottom of the eighth with a walk and stole second base. Zach Collins stepped up to the plate with two outs and put the ball in play.
“When Ryan [Krout] struck out, it felt like this might be the end,” Collins said. “I just told myself, ‘I need to keep my head in the game,’ got up there and ended up getting a good hit.”
Collins said the pitch was low, and that he had to dip a little bit when he swung.
“The second baseman jumped pretty high, but it ended up going over,” Collins said. “This is a big school. We’re a little 2A school. To come back from two runs down and win the game in extra innings, it’s just one of those crazy feelings. Oh, I want to relive that.”
Thompson rounded third base and scored the winning run. The Panthers celebrated like they had just won a championship, but it’s only the first game of the season. Head coach Jaycop Collins said who knows what possibilities lie ahead for Washougal.
“Everybody was getting stir crazy being inside. They were all pumped to get outside and actually play a game,” he said. “Going into this game, and knowing what [Mountain View has] been able to do these last few years was a little nerve wracking.
“I’m very proud. These boys build off each other. They have been playing baseball together for years,” the coach added. “Our seniors are telling the younger guys, ‘This is what we can do. This is what we can accomplish all season long.’”
After struggling out of the gate in 2016, Washougal ended the season on a high with three wins in a row. Coach Collins attributes the turnaround to a change in attitudes and approaches by everybody involved.
“There was a point last season where part of me wanted to give up. I thought maybe I wasn’t the guy for the job,” Collins said. “I came in with a different mindset after spring break. The players saw a change in me, and I saw a change in them. It was like a brand new start for all of us. We kind of fed off that.”
Although the Panthers finished one game out of the playoffs, coach Collins said they matured and became a family.
“I would like to see us get into district play this season, and hopefully make our way into state,” the coach said. “If we can keep that family feel going between the players and the fans, I think it is going to be a fun season.”