Highline Bears comeback not enough, lose 2-1 to Northwest Honkers Saturday

By Luke Olson

Head coach of the Highline Bears, Josh Evans, would walk out of the mound on a cool Saturday evening and pull starting pitcher Nick Horn after just 0.1 innings pitched. Horn could not seem to find his command against the Northwest Honkers allowing four walks, one strikeout and one earned run in the first inning that proved to be the difference.

The Honkers defeated the Bears 2-1 at Mel Olson Stadium on Saturday night, June 2.

It took Horn ten pitches to finally record his first strike. He would fan down his third batter after letting the first two with free passes, but for the second time, would surrender back to back walks.

“I felt like I had my stuff, I just couldn’t locate it.” Horn said.

Being pulled so early does not often fare well with pitchers, but Evans did not want to allow any more damage to happen in the first inning.

“He was struggling with command right off the bat,” Evans said. “He has been working on things the last couple of weeks and he is going to have to continue to work. Disappointing to have his first outing like that, but he is determined to get back out there. “

Right hander A.J. Palmer would be called in being left with the bases loaded with just one out. He would record the next two outs without allowing a runner to score and flummoxed the Honkers in his final six innings pitched —allowing just one earned run, no walks and seven strikeouts on the night.

“Palmer’s performance was awesome,” Evans said. “Could not ask for much more from a relief guy coming in the first inning.”

Not very often is a relief pitcher expecting to come in the first inning — especially Palmer, who was likely expecting to make his appearance not until the seventh or eighth inning. But, he came into the game with just a few minutes to warm up and his command and stuff would result in the Honkers bats to go stagnant.

“I went out to the bullpen and asked him how long it was going to take him to get loose and I said, ‘you got to hurry up’,” Evans said. “He told me he needed five minutes and I think I brought him in with about three minutes. But, he got warmed up and ready to go, gave me the ‘OK’ and went out and dominated for us.”

Palmers’ lone mistake came in the second inning, giving up a lead-off single to Jordan Padilla. Padilla would steal on the first pitch to the next batter to advance to second. Palmer would put out his next two batters, but Jesse Bechtold would knock a hard line- drive to center to score Padilla.

The Bears would threaten to score often but were never able to drive in runners. They were 1/8 with runners in scoring position on the night. You could say their ‘timely hitting’ was not on.

“We are getting guys on base, but we can’t get them across,” Evans said. “The hits will come, they are just not falling for us the last two games.”

In the ninth, they made things interesting. Kevin Nakamura would take a free pass to first with one out. One batter later, Cody Simmons would come in to pinch hit for Clay Kleus and on the second pitch, would get beamed. Shortstop Chase Anderson would work the count for a walk and Carter Wallace would have a chance to tie the game—or potentially win the game. He would hit a high chopper to third but would be thrown out after a head-slide to first to end the game.

The Bears’ lone run came in the sixth inning. Bryce Beck would advance on a fielder’s choice with two outs and Kelan Martin singled on a soft grounder to third— beating out the throw to first to give Alexander Bryner the chance to put the Bears on board. He would hit a single to center sending Beck to home from second base.

Pitchers Colton Borg and Connor Bensen would provide solid outings for the Bears in the eighth and ninth innings. Both allowing a combined no hits and just one walk.

Next, the Bears will once again face the Honkers on Sunday, June 3 at Fall City Community Park starting at 1 p.m.

Their next home game will be against the North Sound Emeralds on Friday, June 8, with the first pitch set for 7:05 p.m.

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