Mountaineers shut out by Riverhawks in soggy doubleheader

Rainier outscored, 25-0, in 11 combined innings


After a 2-0 start to the season, the Rainier High School baseball team is searching for answers amid a five-game losing streak. The skid continued after Toledo shut out the Mountaineers in a doubleheader on Saturday, March 23, first by a score of 10-0 in five innings and second by a score of 15-0 in six innings.

Rainier’s offense struggled mightily, as the team moved into scoring position just five times across the two games. The Mountaineers had three times as many errors as hits in the doubleheader, with 15 mistakes on defense compared with five hits.

“These ones are painful because we’re doing it to ourselves. They’re just not making the basic plays that they’ve been making since tee ball,” Rainier head coach Justin Gurnsey said. “If we don’t make the plays, don’t make the throws, don’t run the bases like we grew up knowing how to do, then teams with talent are going to take it to us. That’s what happened today.”

Senior Ryder Cruse took the mound for the Mountaineers in the first game, allowing 10 runs with only three earned, six hits and six walks in four innings. He struck out four in the losing effort.

Peyton Sheaffer recorded the only hit for the Mountaineers in the loss with a fifth-inning single, and Rainier batters struck out a total of 10 times. Toledo starting pitcher Caiden Schultz threw four no-hit innings and struck out eight Mountaineers. The Riverhawks used a seven-run second inning to blow up the lead to 9-0 before walking it off in the fifth to enact the mercy rule.

In the second game, junior Hunter Howell started on the mound but could not finish the fourth inning as Rainier trailed 5-0. Junior Dayton Gardner took over and pitched the final two outs of the fourth and all three of the fifth, but the Mountaineers fell behind, 9-0, entering the sixth. Gurnsey put Sheaffer on the mound and mixed up the defensive infield, but Rainier still struggled to make outs.

“We gave them a million extra chances and didn’t make the plays that we should have made,” Gurnsey said.

The first-year head coach was even less pleased with his team’s composure as the two Central 2B League foes chirped at each other throughout the second game.

“This is a tough game. We’re going to win and we’re going to lose, but it’s not about the final score. It’s about every single competitive moment in the game,” he said. “If you miss one, get the next. I think these guys worry so much about the overall, and who won and who lost, that they’re not focused on staying in the moment and winning the next play.”

The Mountaineers fell to 2-5 with a pair of games against Adna coming up, with the Pirates hosting on Wednesday, March 27, and Rainier hosting at 3 p.m. on Thursday, March 28. The results of Wednesday’s matchup were not available before press time. 

Gurnsey wants his team to bounce back as a group in order to turn their skid around.

“Even with adversity, I want them to know that they can’t get on each other. They need to actually band together. It takes a team together in order to move forward,” he said.