CENTRALIA – The Colfax Bulldogs sent longtime head coach Mike Parrish riding into the sunset with a shiny new state championship trophy in hand on Saturday, thanks to a 5-3 extra-innings victory over Tri-Cities Prep.
The teams were locked in a speedy 1-1 pitchers’ duel through seven innings before breaking out the high drama fireworks for the eighth and ninth frames.
In the top of the eighth, the Bulldogs’ Blake Bodey and Cal Gregory led things off with singles.
Colfax then put the wheels in motion with a sacrifice bunt by Logan Gingerich that Tri-Cities Prep pitcher Carter Ritala fielded and threw to third base in an attempt to get the lead runner. The throw sailed high, allowing Bodey to score. Kyle Appel’s sacrifice fly scored Gregory to give the Bulldogs a 3-1 lead.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Jaguars were down to their final out with a runner on second when Logan Mercado connected for a 384-foot home run off Gregory. After a strikeout, the game moved to the ninth, tied at 3.
With one out, the Bulldogs’ Nos. 8 and 9 batters, Matt Sharp and Bodey, drew walks and Gregory’s single loaded the bases. Gingerich snapped the tie with an RBI single and Danny Robinson’s bases-loaded walk gave Colfax a 5-3 lead.
In the bottom of the ninth, Gregory set TCP down in order with three harmless fly balls.
“I just knew I had a good team behind my back and I just had to finish it somehow,” said Gregory, who earned the victory in relief of Parker Huber. Huber pitched six innings, allowing one run and three hits.
The victory came in coach Parrish’s final game at the helm. Parrish has been Colfax’s head coach for 21 years, with six years of junior varsity before that. The baseball lifer has put in 44 years coaching youth baseball at one level or another. While he says he has no plans to coach again, he also has no regrets.
“I decided before the season, but I didn’t really tell anybody until three days ago,” Parrish said during the championship festivities.
Parrish was unsure how his team would respond after TCP’s eighth-inning homer.
“I’ve had at least 10 teams that would have fallen flat on their butts after that,” Parrish said. “We’ve been able to come back this season. Our kids don’t panic.”
Gingerich led the Bulldogs with two hits, a RBI and a run. Gregory added two hits and a run.
“It’s a great feeling because I love (Parrish) to death,” Gregory said. “He’s like my grandpa.”
“I told the boys, ‘What a gift you game me on the way out,’ ” Parrish said.
Parrish said he hopes the new coach will be selected within the next few weeks. He hinted that the future skipper may have been in uniform on Saturday, but declined to go into detail.