In a highly-anticipated home season-opener inside Mel Olson stadium at Steve Cox Memorial Park, the Highline Bears held the lead for a majority of the game, until the seventh inning came around. Pitcher J.J. Asinas pitched six strong innings, shortstop and lead-off hitter Chase Anderson reached base in all five of his at-bats, but it was not enough as the Bears fell to the North Sound Emeralds 5-4 in a close game throughout.
The Bears led 2-1 in the top of the seventh inning, when submarine-style relief pitcher Andrew Ellingson entered the game. Ellingson recorded two quick outs, but then things went downhillfrom there. Ellingson allowed a two-out pinch hit double to Emeralds outfielder Kolby Force, who then came around to score on a Sam Linscott single, to tie the game at two.
The following play, Ellingson got the Emeralds nine-hitter to hit a ground ball to third baseman Carter Wallace, which would have ended the inning, but Wallace made an errant throw to first baseman Bryce Beck, which allowed everyone to be safe and advance an extra base. Ellingson then hit the next batter, loading the bases for left fielder Jaden Yackley who hit a bases-clearing double, ending the night for Ellingson, giving the Emeralds a 5-2 lead.
The Bears didn’t give up though. In the bottom half of the inning, the Bears drew three straight walks, loading the bases, and then an error by second-baseman Carson Lindell allowed catcher Cody Simmons to score from third, cutting the deficit to two. On the following play, designated hitter Kealen Martin recorded his second RBI groundout of the game, to bring the Bears within one, 5-4.
Returning outfielder Alex Bryner had a chance to tie the game or take the lead with the bases-loaded and two outs in the inning, but struck out looking on a questionable strike call. The Bears handed the ball to Central Washington University’s J.J. Asinas, and did he ever deliver. Asinas was controlling the zone all night, and allowed only one earned run in six innings of work. J.J. finished with six strikeouts, allowing only four hits in his debut for Highline.
“Asinas did a great job tonight,” manager Josh Evans said. “I feel like he rebounded nicely whenever guys got on-base.”
The Bears were the first team to get a baserunner, when shortstop Chase Anderson drew a walk in the first inning. The lead-off hitter reached base on all five of his at-bats, which got coach Evans’ approval. “Anderson did exactly what you want your lead-off hitter to do,” he said.
The Bears look to rebound Saturday night, when they face the Northwest Honkers at home.