It is a long fall from second place to fourth place in the league standings, but it took only two losses for the Chewelah Cougars to drop two floors on the down elevator.
Eight Cougar errors in the opening game of Saturday’s doubleheader at Medical Lake gave the host Cardinals all the scoring opportunities they needed for a 4-3 win.
Eight hits produced only two Chewelah runs in the second game as Medical Lake completed their two-game sweep by winning the second game by a 9-2 score.
The twin wins kept Medical Lake alone in first place in the current league standings with a perfect 6-0 record. The two losses dropped Chewelah to 5-3.
The Cougars went to Medical Lake with the anticipation of winning both games. Their lowest expectation was to come back home with a split. So, the loss of both games came as an unexpected shock.
“Everything depends on our league season,” said Coach Luke Jeanneret. “There will be no league tournament this year. How a team places in the league will determine their position going into the bi-district playoffs against the Caribou Trail League.”
Chewelah’s starting pitchers went into Saturday’s games undefeated with a combined 5-0 record on the mound. Caleb Wiebe allowed only four hits in the opening game, but he was tagged with the loss because of all the errors. Carson Colman suffered the loss in the second game.
The Cougars still have a chance to regain some lost ground. They have three games to play against third place Freeman and a doubleheader against second place Lakeside. Every one of those games is important to Chewelah’s post-season hopes.
Caleb Wiebe threw a masterful four-hitter against Medical Lake in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader. However, because of eight Cougar errors that led to three Cardinal unearned runs, Chewelah ended up on the short end of a 4-3 final score.
“We came back and tied up the game in the top of the seventh inning when Caleb doubled and Dustin Crowell singled him in,” said Coach Luke Jeanneret. “But, in the bottom of the inning, a Medical Lake player hit a high fly ball that the wind carried over the fence.”
The walk-off home run dramatically ended the game in a Medical Lake win.
The loss was a heart wrencher for Wiebe. The senior right-hander threw all seven innings, allowed only four hits and one earned run, and was saddled with a league pitching loss. He allowed two singles in the second inning, but neither runner got past second base. He allowed another single in the error-filled fourth inning, and that player never scored either.
The solo home run at the end of the game was the only one for which Wiebe was responsible. The others were all unearned. But, five Cougar errors in the fourth inning destroyed the opportunity for his fourth straight pitching victory.
Chewelah had a 1-0 lead in the third inning. Andrew Hansen singled and was batted in by Derek Smith.
The Smith Cousins teamed up to score Chewelah’s second run in the top of the sixth inning. Derek doubled into centerfield and Brandon brought him home with a single. That run still left the Cougars behind, 3-2.
The double-single combination by Wiebe and Crowell tied the game at 4-all in the top of the final inning. Nonetheless, the solo homer by Medical Lake in the bottom of that inning won the game for the Cardinals.
Chewelah out-hit the home-standing Cardinals. The Cougars had seven hits. Medical Lake had only four.
In the second game that afternoon, Chewelah hit the ball with consistency, but they could not find a gap in the Medical Lake defense to poke it through. The Cardinals made the defensive plays they had to make to win. Nearly every hit ball ended up as a fly out or a ground out.
Only two Cougar baserunners scored. Hansen doubled in the third inning and was batted in by Brandon Smith. Then, in the seventh inning, Brandon Smith’s single scored his cousin Derek.
Thus, Medical Lake swept the doubleheader, 4-3 and 9-2.
The Cougars have three games this week. Freeman will be here on Wednesday for a single game, beginning at 4:00. Then, on Saturday, they will travel to Newport for two games, with the starting time set at 11:00.
ML 4, Chewelah 3
Cougars: 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 = 3 7 8
Cards: 0 0 0 3 0 0 1 = 4 4 3
Cougar pitching: Caleb Wiebe and Cordell Bean; Loss – Wiebe (3-1).
Cougar hitting: Dustin Crowell 2, Brandon Smith, Derek Smith, Caleb Wiebe, Dustin Olsen, Andrew Hansen. 2B – Olsen, Derek Smith, Wiebe.
ML 9, Chewelah 2
Cougars: 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 = 2 8 0
Cards: 2 0 4 1 1 1 0 = 9 14 1
Cougar pitching: Carson Coleman, Brandon Smith (6) and Cordell Bean; Loss – Coleman (2-1).
Cougar hitting Brandon Smith 3, Cordell Bean 2, Andrew Hansen 2, Carson Coleman. 2B – Bean, Brandon Smith, Hansen.
Medical Lake 6 – 0
Lakeside 5 – 2
Freeman 4 – 2
Chewelah 5 – 3
Kettle Falls 2 – 6
Riverside 1 – 4
Newport 0 – 7
By Geno Ludwig, The Independent Staff
In This Photo: Kyle Connall (SS) at Medical Lake. Mickey Olson photo