Longview, Wash.- The first look at the 2016 Cowlitz Black Bears was a success for the Black Bears, who prevailed 9-3 against the Thurston County Senators on a beautiful Thursday night at David Story Field.
After a rough first inning in which Thurston County scored twice Cowlitz, came right back in the bottom of the inning to tie the game. Toby Johnson drove in Michael Forgione with an RBI double, and Lorin Archibald brought Johnson home with an RBI sacrifice fly.
The Black Bears took the lead for good in the bottom of the second, scoring three runs. Ryan Enquist and Justin Hughes led off the inning with singles. Brock Myklebust then drove in Enquist with a base hit to right field. The ball was bobbled in the outfield, which allowed Hughes to score.
The Black Bears got one more in the third to make it 6-2 when Tim Jones scored from second on a Senators’ error.
Meanwhile, Cowlitz starting pitcher Seth Rayburn settled in after the rough first. Rayburn sat the Senators down in order in the second, third and fifth innings. He also allowed just one more hit the rest of his outing. Rayburn got the win, pitching six innings and striking out one batter, the final one he faced, and walking three.
Thurston County scored in the top of the fourth to narrow the gap to 6-3. Ryan Connor hit into a 5-3 double play with the bases loaded, which scored Omar Maldonado. The Black Bears kept the pressure on, which led to another run being scored in the fifth. After Andy Armstrong doubled, Enquist brought him in with an RBI single.
Myklebust led off the sixth by getting hit by a pitch from the second Senator hurler, Zach Stevenson. Colin Winn hit an RBI single to drive him in and make it 8-3. The final run of the night came in the seventh. Jones led off the inning with a triple. The next batter, Enquist, allowed him to score with an RBI sacrifice fly.
Dustin Wells came in relief of Rayburn in the seventh. Wells sat down the Senators in order by inducing a fly out, a ground out then another fly out. In the eighth Wells had his lone blemish when he hit the lead-off batter Elijah Collins. Collins then stole second and third. But Wells answered by striking out the side. In the ninth, Wells again relied on his defense to get the first two outs but struck out Connor to earn a nine out save.
West Coast League play begins tomorrow night for the Black Bears as the Kitsap BlueJackets will be in town. Time of first pitch is 7:05. There will be a fireworks show after the game.