Bend, Ore.- Let the record show that the Cowlitz Black Bears playoff hopes ended before their 13-10 victory Sunday over the Bend Elks.
As a result of Yakima Valley's 7-3 loss to Corvallis, the Knights are elevated to no worse than a tie with the Black Bears for the 2nd Half title in the South Division, triggering a tiebreaker that gives the Pippins the final playoff spot based on full season record.
But Cowlitz still ended their eighth season in franchise history with a bang coming from behind on the Elks. In the top of the ninth inning with the score tied 10-10 Kona Quiggle (SO Grand Canyon) and Derek Scott (JR Abilene Christian) both drew one out walks. The next batter Marco Valenzuela (SO Nevada) got a base hit to bring Quiggle home. Scott also scored on the play after the Bend center fielder made a fielding error to give the Bears their third lead of the ball game. With two outs Ryan Kim (SO University of Portland) put the game away with his sixth RBI of the night on a single.
Closer Kragen Kechely (SO Dallas Baptist) earned his second win in as many nights and improved his record to 3-0 inducing a 4-6-3 double play and a strikeout to end the season.
Bend opened the scoring with one run in the first. Kim answered in the second with his first two runs batted in on a home run to right center field exactly where Valenzuela hit his game winning dinger the night before.
The Elks responded scoring three runs in the bottom of the inning to retake the lead 4-2. Three more came across in the third to make it 7-2.
Valenzuela doubled in the fourth and scored when Dane Stankiewicz (SO Grand Canyon) drove him in with a single to narrow the gap to 7-3. But Bend had a response in the fifth to make it 8-3.
That's when Cowlitz made their second comeback. Kim hit his second home run of the game in the sixth, a three run shot opposite field to left, which trimmed the lead to 8-6. The next batter Andy Armstrong (SO Oregon State) hit another bomb to left which made it 8-7.
In the seventh the Black Bears took the lead again. Scott hit a two run double to make it 9-8. The next batter Valenzuela hit an RBI sacrifice fly to give the Bears a two run cushion.
But Bend wasn't done and the first batter Kechely faced in the eighth hit a two run homer to dead center which tied the game at ten.
Starter Cobi Johnson (SR Northwest Nazarene) pitched 1.2 innings and gave up four runs on four hits with one walk and one hit batter. Joey Morris (SO University of Portland) took over for a third of an inning, faced five batters and gave up three runs.
Taylor Graham (JR Central Washington) had another strong long relief appearance going 4.1 innings and only gave up one run on three hits. Then David Appleby (SO Santa Barbara City College) and CJ Blowers (R-SO Edmonds College) pitched lasting one third and two thirds of an inning respectively. The first run on the last Bend homer was charged to Blowers.
The Black Bears finished with the second most wins in franchise history. Cowlitz won 28 games in both 2011 and 2013. Cowlitz finished in second place during the second half of the season and third overall in the South Division.
Several franchise records were set this summer. Mark Pearson (JR Abilene Christian) set new records with 63 hits and 209 at bats. Pearson finished fifth in the West Coast League in hits. Kim was the Bears batting champion and finished second in the WCL with a .375 average. That mark was good enough for a new franchise best as well. Kim also finished fourth in the league in on-base percentage (.462) and tied for sixth in slugging percentage (.556).
Pearson and Kim tied for the team lead in RBI with 27 apiece. Devlin Granberg (SR Dallas Baptist) set the new franchise single season home run mark with eight which was tied for fourth in the WCL.