Making their first ever trip North of the border to play the Victoria HarbourCats (2-2), The Cowlitz Black Bears (2-2) came up short in 11 innings, in front of 3,038 fans at Sports Traders' Diamond on Tuesday night, 6-5.
Victoria's Nathan Lukes dumped a ball just out of the reach of Bears' left fielder Brian Poupore (Kansas) near the foul line to bring home Kelly Norris-Jones for the winning run in the 11th inning.
Trevor Lane (Illinois/Chicago) made his debut on the mound for the Black Bears, tossing five innings and allowing just one run, which was unearned, on three hits while striking out three.
The teams seemed to match each other in each step of the ball game. The middle of the order came through in the seventh inning. With the game ties at 3-3, Austin Baker (Arkansas St.) singled, advanced to second on a throwing error and came in to score on a Chris Iriart (Orange Coast) double. Designated hitter Daniel Orr (Corban) followed with a single to bring home Iriart and give the Black Bears a 5-3 lead.
Henry Omana (Cal St. Fullerton) and Grant Gamble (Nebraska) ran into trouble in the bottom half of the seventh, allowing five of the six batters they faced combined to reach base. Joe Reta entered the game with the based loaded and the game now tied 5-5 with one out. The Orange Coast sophmore struck out Cats' third baseman Ted Boeke and got Bryce Greager to ground out to escape the jam without further damage.
From there it became a battle of the bullpens, with Reta and Victoria's Tim Peabody both shutting out the opposition and sending the game to extra innings.
Kelly Norris Jones led off the 11th with a walk, was sacrificed to second and came home on the walk-off hit by Nathan Lukes.
While Reta was charged with the loss, he allowed just two base runners, both in the 11th. He retired the first 11 batters that he faced in order, and struck out six in four and a third innings.
Billy Sahlinger (U of Portland) will take the mound for the Black Bears for game two opposite Andrew Nelson and the HarbourCats Wednesday night with first pitch scheduled for 7:05. Tune it to all the action with Shane Downey on KEDO AM 1400 and streaming live on cowlitzblackbears.com beginning at 6:50.