A walkoff single by Cooper Bailey-Parsons gives the Rangers an 8-7 win over the Cardinals and a series split
BREMERTON — Tied 7-7 in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs and the game-winning run standing on third base, it’s a moment every kid dreams of when he first puts on his cleats and grabs a baseball bat and glove.
Olympic College freshman Cooper Bailey-Parsons had that same dream and had been successful a handful of times in the same situation while in high school in Anchorage, Alaska.
Bailey-Parsons came through once more for his teammates when he tattooed a single to right field to score Kade Kupihea and give Olympic
Bailey-Parsons had been making contact with the ball all game and kept telling himself at some point he was going to get a hit.
“My job isn’t to get hits, it’s to hit the ball hard,” he said. “If I hit the ball hard it’ll end up falling. That’s basically what my mentality was at that last at-bat — hit the ball hard where there isn’t somebody.”
Bailey-Parsons said he loves being in that situation.
“I don’t know why but I do good in it,” he said.
It’s exactly what Bailey-Parsons did as Kupihea scored and then threw his helmet in the air and joined his teammates in a chase to catch Bailey-Parsons in short center field to celebrate their victory.
The two teams battled hard in both games with the Cardinals winning the opener 8-6.
Down 6-0, Ben Kolar and Scott Gunther hit back-to-back doubles in the bottom of the third to key a bit of comeback in the opener. Gunther’s two-run double was followed by an RBI single by Cesar Cuevas to make it 6-3, Skagit. The Cardinals upped it to 8-3 after six innings before OC tacked on a bases-loaded RBI walk by Jake Angelico and a fielder’s choice scored Riley Sayer cut it to 8-5. Another Cuevas doubled scored Gunther in the bottom of the ninth but OC wasn’t able to score again.
Gunther, who was a bit prophetic after the first game, saying the Rangers “would bounce back this game and get it going,” went 2-of-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
The loss could have left the Rangers playing with their heads down heading into the second game, but that wasn’t the case for OC. At least, the Rangers weren’t going to let it be as they led 2-0 on a Gunther home run that went more than 450 feet as the ball hit the outfield light pole in left field which stopped it’s trajectory.
Skagit Valley rallied after a hard rainfall to lead 4-3 through six innings.
With Ben Kolar reaching on a walk and two outs, Cesar Cuevas rocketed a shot to left field for a 3-run home run to put Olympic back on top, 6-4 in the seventh. The Cardinals closed it to a one-run game after eight innings, 6-5. Skagit then brought in two runs to take a 7-6 lead in the top of the ninth. Skagit’s Tanner Jacques tripled to center as Jake Tilley scored and Dalton Hawk scored on a throwing error.
It was during that play the throw home was high and OC catcher Caleb Manuel had to reach up for the ball to try and tag Hawk. Manuel came down the same time as Hawk touched the plate and the two bumped. The two had a few choice words following the collision and it didn’t take long for both dugouts to clear out before coaches and umpires separated the teams.
Olympic coach Ryan Parker said the heated exchange, which led to the ejection of both players, could have turned ugly — not only in that moment but the game itself.
“You go back out there and you’re still on defense after all that happens and you still have runners in scoring position,” he said. “It’s a game of pressure. Whoever can control it more is typically the one that’s going to succeed more.”
After the game resumed, Skagit Valley tied it on an RBI single by Derek Cherryholmes to right field, 7-7.
In the bottom half of the inning, Tanner Clabaugh drew a walk and Kupihea bunted down the first-base line. Skagit catcher Nic Rose picked up the ball and threw to first but Kupihea’s speed forced Rose’s throw to go past the first baseman and Clabaugh scored while Kupihea wound up on third on the error.
Koler flew out to center and Gunther reached after getting hit by a pitch to put two runners on the corners. Cuevas then flew out to right field to set up Bailey-Parsons for the game-winning hit.
Bailey-Parsons said the win was meaningful in that the Rangers felt they were being disrespected by Skagit Valley.
“To come back and focus up and come back that last inning and to come back as a group and realize, ‘Hey, we need to not be outside ourselves right now and we need to focus on ourselves to win this ballgame.’
“It was amazing to see every single one of our players do that.”
Parker said the dramatic win could be a harbinger of good things to come.
“These are the things you remember when you look back at the season,” he said. “Situations like that can bring teams closer together.”