In the Loggers' first varsity sporting event since a devastating mudslide hit the area on March 22, the Darrington baseball team earned its first victory of the season, defeating Lummi 7-3 in a nonleague contest thanks to a quick start on offense, a strong performance by starting pitcher Trent Green and a bag of quick-dry dirt that kept home plate safe.
"A lot of these guys have put in a lot of work in the relief effort and doing whatever they could to support the community," Darrington head coach Cam Ross said. "It's nice for them to have a chance to take a little break and play some baseball and have some fun with it and relax a little bit."
The rain started about 10 minutes before the game did and continued to fall throughout the contest. But the Darrington players, eager to be back out on the field, scored four runs in the first inning thanks to a two-run single by Andrew Young and an RBI double by Green.
The Loggers hung on as the crowd — including television cameras, Darrington mayor Dan Rankin and Washington Governor Jay Inslee — looked on.
Count Inslee among those inspired by the Loggers' performance on the field.
"I've been really admiring some of the young people I've met in Darrington," the governor said. "They've been feeding the rescuers. I got to shoot a few hoops with some of the kids up here. These are people who make you realize you should have hope for the world, when you meet Darrington kids. They're resilient, they care about their family members, they help the rescuers and they're winning."
For the players, it was just nice to get on the field. Monday was the first day since the mudslide the team had been together. A scheduled game against La Conner on March 28 was rained out and last week was spring break at Darrington, which featured optional practices so that the players could continue with the relief effort.
It was the first game for the Loggers since a 19-18 loss to Tacoma Baptist in a 10-inning afternoon game on March 22.
"It's nice just to get back to normal," Green said. "I was getting kind of sick of the games getting canceled. I don't even care if it's raining. I just want to play baseball."
The rain scared the head coach, who looked at several weather forecasts hoping for the best.
"I think I searched five different weather reports to find out when the rain was supposed to hit," Ross said. "Right as we walked out for warmups the rain started. It's one of those things were if it's just a drizzle we can handle that, but in the later innings it started picking up. It's good that it held off."
The spectators, including firefighters, parents, Darrington students, Loggers football coach Doug Lenker and several other baseball fans, braved the rain to cheer on Darrington.
"Any time we can come together in our community is a great time," said the Darrington mayor, whose son Ben started in right field for the Loggers. "It helps with everything that we're having to deal with up here. It's kind of fun to come out, while it's a little bit rainy and a little big ugly. … I think it's huge right now. Wins are really big for them, in spite of what is in their lives today. A win is big. A win is really fantastic."
With the victory, Darrington equaled its win total from last season. Ross is hoping that the victory helps build some early-season momentum for the Loggers.
"It's nice to get the first win of the season," said Ross. "We got off to a good start. They played well for the circumstances. It's good to see them smile and joke around, to be able to have some fun. And then play together as a team. Hopefully, it's a stepping stone in the right direction."
Lummi got three runs in the top of the sixth inning, thanks in part to a pair of errors on Darrington. But the Loggers added an insurance run in the bottom half of the inning and were able to hold off the Blackhawks.
Green, who said the players "just got used" to the rain, earned the win on the mound for Darrington. He struck out a career-high 13 batters before Andrew Young took over in the sixth inning for the Loggers (1-2 overall).
Darrington's next home game is scheduled for April 22 against Orcas Island. That is the same day United States President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Darrington.
The Loggers would love for the president to throw out the first pitch at their game that Tuesday.
"I would like to invite the president to throw out the first pitch on April 22nd versus Orcas at 1 p.m.," Darrington Athletic Director Cory Ross said. "The entire school and a lot of the community will be there. It would be our pleasure and honor to have him be a part of our game."
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