By, Zack Smolen


Longview, WA — Following up a tightly contested series with the Wenatchee AppleSox (8-7), the Cowlitz Black Bears (5-7) will welcome the Bend Elks (5-10) to David Story Field for a weekend set. This will not only cap off Cowlitz’s six-game home stand, but will also be the final time they take on their South Division rivals in 2021. Bend will feature a much-improved roster from the last time the two squads met, which should help make for a wild weekend.


Recent History


These two teams met out in Bend not too long ago for a three-game series that was anything but your average slate of contests. Marred by rare rainstorms out in the desert, the Elks and Black Bears played just 19 total innings, including a five-inning affair for game one and a pair of seven inning matchups in a doubleheader. The first two games ended with identical 2-1 scores, with each team emerging victorious once, followed by a 7-6 Cowlitz win featuring seven Black Bears pitchers and five for Bend in just seven innings. The Bears of Summer will look to duplicate their winnings ways against the Elks at home to wrap up their first complete season series. 


Standings Check-In


Though the Black Bears have now dropped back-to-back series, they still find themselves in good shape to make a serious run at the first half title in the South Division. At 5-7, they’re tied for third place with the Portland Pickles (5-7), with both teams sitting just 4.5 games out of the top spot, currently held by the Corvallis Knights (11-4). While that might seem like a fairly steep hill to climb, keep in mind that Cowlitz have three games in hand on the Knights and will play nine of their next twelve games within the division. A good showing in this upcoming stretch of games can catapult the Black Bears up the standings, and given the talent on this team is not too farfetched. 


Players to Watch


Speaking of said talent, Cowlitz had a couple of players bust out offensively this week that’ll look to stay hot at home. Cary Arbolida (Orange Coast) went a solid four for nine in the Wenatchee series, hit his first home run, and knocked in a trio of runs. Wilson Weber (Oregon St.) joined in on those fireworks with a home run of his own to go along with a pair of doubles and six RBI. He now leads the team with five extra-base hits and is second on the club with a .467 slugging percentage.


On the mound, the Black Bears will kick things off with Kyle Sandstrom (Charleston Southern) who has dazzled this season in 11 innings, striking out 17 and compiling a microscopic 0.46 WHIP without surrendering a run. Max Pettey (Sacramento St.) and Kelly Austin (UCLA) will round out the rotation, with the former returning to the starting rotation after a relief appearance and the latter trying to continue his dominant stretch to begin the summer.


For Bend, look no further than Sam Linscott (Lewis-Clark St.) for offensive firepower. The reigning Moss Adams Player of the Week is hitting a WCL-leading .467, adding a homer and 10 RBI to his front-running .547 OBP. Gavin Rork may also cause some problems at the plate with his eight RBI and .535 OBP both ranking second on the Elks.


Probable Starters:

*stats include 2021 non-league games


Friday: Kyle Sandstrom (1-0, 0.00, 17 K)* vs Kade Morris (0-0,  5.06, 4 K)


Saturday: Max Pettey (0-0, 3.00, 10 K)* vs AJ Lattery (0-0, 10.80, 1 K)


Sunday: Kelly Austin (1-0, 2.00, 24 K)* vs David Case (0-0, 1.92, 1 K)


Catch all the action this season either at the ballpark or from anywhere on the Cowlitz Black Bears YouTube channel  or the Black Bears Radio Network.