The Cowapa League baseball season opened Tuesday with a Clatsop Clash in Astoria, where the Fishermen hosted Seaside in a big early-season showdown.
Originally scheduled for Tapiola Park, the teams made a late move to the more weather-resistant CMH Field.
And with the rain beginning to pour down a little harder in the late innings, the Gulls made their move, scoring four runs in the top of the seventh for an exciting 8-6 win.
“That was a pretty dang good baseball game,” said Seaside coach Dan McFadden. “And I was nervous for it. League opener, at Astoria. This was the real deal.
“But we played a tough schedule early on, and since then, we’ve just gotten better,” he said. “We have some great athletes in the lineup, we’re hitting the ball really well, and they responded tonight.”
Astoria led for most of the game, as Fishermen starter Dylan Rush did just enough to keep Seaside from putting together any big rallies.
Yet the Gulls seemed to respond to every Astoria score, forcing a 2-2 tie in the top of the third, and 4-4 in the top of the fourth.
The rallies were sparked by a recent addition to the Seaside roster — Chase Januik. In his second game with the Gulls, the senior No. 9 hitter in the lineup had a triple in his first at-bat, followed by a pair of singles. He scored twice and drove in a run.
“What an addition,” McFadden said. “Usually when a guy sits out for a few years (Januik competed in track previously), it’s hard for them to get it back. I didn’t know what to expect from him, but he’s such an athlete and such a competitor, it’s worked out well. He had a bloop single in his first at-bat in his first game back against North Marion.”
Still, the Fishermen finally seemed to have things put away with two runs in the bottom of the sixth, as Ryan Stutznegger hit a leadoff double and later scored on a fly ball by Adam Feldman, and Ebin Hillard’s single drove in courtesy runner Brooks Fromwiller for a 6-4 lead.
But the Gulls saved their biggest rally for the top of the seventh, as they greeted reliever Dylan Junes with a single by Isaias Jantes and a walk, followed by consecutive hits for Brayden Johnson and Travis Fenton, with Fenton’s single scoring two runs to tie the game.
Seaside’s big inning was briefly halted when Johnson was thrown out at the plate in a rundown. With two outs and runners at first and second, Payton Westerholm came through in the clutch, driving in both runners with a triple to deep center field.
Westerholm did the rest from the mound, retiring three of the four batters he faced in the bottom of the seventh to pick up the victory.