R.A. Long and Mark Morris went in opposite directions after the last Civil War battle — a 4-0 Lumberjacks win.
The Monarchs, who were struggling going into that April 1 game, won four of their next five following the defeat.
The Lumberjacks, on the other hand, lost three of four and entered Monday’s game on a three-game losing streak.
But as RAL coach Mark Hulings put it: “You can take the record and throw them out the window in baseball Civil War games.”
And in similar fashion to its April Fools’ Day win, the Jacks took home a 5-2 win at David Story Field on the back of another strong performance from Kaden Vanderwerf.
Vanderwerf followed up his 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the Monarchs the last time with a 5-inning night, allowing three hits, an unearned run, and striking out three.
The Jacks (5-3 league, 8-5) certainly didn’t need any extra motivation to get up for what’s always one of the biggest games of the season, but a three-game losing streak puts a bit more on the line.
“We really wanted this one,” said Gunnar Blix, who came in for a two-inning save, striking out two. “Before the game, we were fired up. We wanted it bad.”
Blix was relieved of some additional pressure when the Jacks’ bats broke out in the top of the seventh nursing a 2-1 lead, as Jacob Childers, Andrew Walling, Jace Childers and Conner Wallace all got base knocks to score three, and gave RAL a four-run cushion entering the home seventh.
Mark Morris (4-4, 6-5) tried its best to come up with a two-out rally, getting consecutive basehits from Devin St. Jean, Cody Guernsey and Brent Myklebust. Easton McClung walked to load the bases for three-hole hitter Lane Spenker, who represented the go-ahead run.
But Blix drew a groundout to third on the first pitch to end the game.
“I knew that I would get out a little grounder eventually,” Blix said. “I just kept throwing fastballs and knew my defense would come through.”
It was a case of a too little, too late for the Monarchs, who tallied just three hits before the seventh. Both of MM’s runs came unearned as well as a bobble in left field scored St. Jean in the seventh and a passed ball plated Jordan Frost, who walked and stole two bases in the fourth.
“We have to minimize that big inning,” MM coach Jason Mackey said of the seventh-inning outburst from the Jacks. “That’s been our stumbling block this season. ... We don’t give up three and give up one right there, it’s a different ballgame.”
R.A. long was able to get on board in the third when a pair of leadoff walks led to Jacob Childers’ line drive to center field which scored Wallace.
In the fifth, the Jacks added another, as Vanderwerf led off with a single before Blix eventually drove him home with a hard hit to left.
Levi Atkins went 6 1/3 innings for the Monarchs on the mound, allowing eight hits, three earned runs and five walks. He struck out four before Anthony Morrow relieved him after two leadoff hits in the seventh.
Morrow threw 2/3 of an inning, allowing two runs, one earned, two hits and a walk.
“I thought (Atkins) did a great job,” Mackey said. “The reason I pulled him is he got up there in pitch count. But I though Anthony (Morrow) did fantastic. He forced ground balls ... but we got to make plays behind him.”
Mackey is again hoping for the Civil War defeat to be a springboard for another winning streak. The Monarchs are tied for fourth with Hudson’s Bay, but boast a 17-8 win over the Eagles. The two square off Wednesday.
“This is just one hurdle, it’s an obstacle,” Mackey said. “We don’t expect to be perfect every time. It’s what can we do after games like this.”
R.A. Long, too, is hoping for the game to be a launching pad into the final weeks of the season. The Lumberjacks face the league’s bottom two teams — Washougal and Woodland — next.