Bryan Lininger celebrates with Adna teammates after hitting his third home run of the day.
Pirates are Overwhelming
Adna Bats Stay Hot in Victory Over Napavine to Reach Final Four
by Kevin Westrick
ADNA - The Adna baseball team is just plain offensive ... literally.
The Pirates clubbed their way to the State Class 2B Region II Baseball Tournament title on their home field Saturday with another offensive display.
"Their offense is just so tough to stop," said Napavine coach Bryan Bullock, after the Pirates beat the Tigers 15-3 in the regional title game.
It was a cloudy afternoon in Adna. A consistent breeze kept the Pirate flag in right-centerfield in full display as a reminder to where everyone was.
Adna started its day with a 20-4 bashing of Quilcene while Napavine knocked out Seattle Lutheran 2-1 (see related story, page S3).
Adna now heads to the state semifinals in Yakima where the Pirates get a familiar foe - White Pass. The Panthers won the Region I title Saturday.
The Pirates banged out 35 hits in their two regional games, which matched their 35 runs.
How potent have the Pirates been of late? Lethal. Adna has scored 126 runs in its last eight games.
"I really don't know where it came from," said Adna coach Rex Ashmore. "One-to-nine (batting order) are getting it done."
Bryan Lininger had a huge day with three homers overall to run his season total to 11.
"I felt good today," Lininger said. "This has been great, but I never thought it would be this great."
It was Lininger's blast that broke open the Napavine game.
Adna had grabbed a 1-0 lead when Nick Pettit, the No. 9 hitter, delivered a two-out RBI single to score Peter Wagner in the second inning.
Napavine starter Connor Craft had kept the Pirates off balance in the first three innings. He had given up four hits, but all singles.
It all changed in the fourth.
Wagner started things with a short fly to left field that was dropped by Devil Carroll. Colby Fitzgerald quickly made the error hurt with an RBI double. Roby Haycock singled and after an out, Pettit walked to load the bases. Tyson Stephens singled home a run, Trevor Kindell grounded out to plate another, and it was 4-0.
With first base open, Napavine elected to pitch to Lininger and he made them pay with a three-run homer to left field.
Napavine battled back with three runs in the fifth. That inning also started with an error when Carroll reached on a missed third strike. Wade Hamre walked and then came three straight singles. Justin Grace's base hit loaded the bases and then Kellen Ashmore plated two with a single. Donny Powe drove home the third run with a single.
However, Adna made sure there would be no dramatic comeback on its own field as seven straight Pirates reached base with one out in the sixth. Wagner and Haycock both had two-run doubles.
"They are just so tough to slow down," Bullock said. "We didn't have Kellen (Ashmore pitched a gem in the first game) and we just ran out of pitching. Our guys competed."
Brandon Williams picked up the victory for Adna, giving up seven hits - all singles.
"Our pitchers have kept us in games all year long," Ashmore said. "We scored some runs early in the year, but nothing like this. We just played solid all day long."
Adna shared the Central 2B League title with White Pass and then beat the Panthers for the District IV title. But this is Adna's first trip to the semifinals since the 1995 season when the Pirates finished third under current Centralia College coach Bruce Pocklington.
While Adna made it look easy Saturday, Ashmore insisted that it wasn't.
"It's never easy," he said with a smile. "This has been a long time coming. And with how far this group has come in the last two years. I'm real proud."
Ah, yes. The Pirates don't even have a senior on the roster.
"This is exciting ... real exciting," Lininger said.
Adna, which split two games with the Tigers during the regular season, had 14 hits against Napavine with five doubles and Lininger's homer.
Stephens, Lininger and Wagner all had three hits while Haycock had two. Napavine's Jeremy Beauchamp was 2-for-3.
"You have to credit Napavine," Ashmore said. "They never quit. They play hard and are well coached."
While the ending wasn't what the Tigers wanted, it was a big step in the right direction. Napavine (13-9) had lost the game to get to regionals the last couple of years at the 1A level.
"I always felt we could get here, but you never take anything for granted," Bullock said. "The kids achieved all year. It was a very successful season. I have to thank all our parents, Josh (assistant coach Fay) and all the kids for all their hard work."
The Tigers lose seniors Brennan Keller, Tyson Studer, Nick West, Grace, Michael Beaber and Ashmore.