RICHLAND -- Gonzaga Prep knew going into Saturday’s game with Richland that it needed to bring its ‘A’ game to secure the No. 1 seed to the Eastern Washington regional round of state.
Knowing and doing are two different things.
The Bullpups scored a big fat ‘F’, issuing 12 free passes and committing five errors as Richland took advantage of nearly every mistake for a 5-1 win at Bomber Field.
“The big thing is they believe we are going to win, and find a way to do it,” Bombers coach Ben Jacobs said of his team. “I like how we show up and play on our field. We protect our turf. We’ve only lost one game at home this season.”
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The Bombers (19-5) advance to play Mead (19-7), a 5-4 winner over Ferris (16-8), at 1 p.m. in a loser-out game next Saturday at Avista Stadium in Spokane. G-Prep (19-6) will play Auburn-Riverside at 10 a.m. next Saturday at Avista Stadium.
“Usually, we pitch good and play good defense,” G-Prep coach Brian Munhall said. “When you walk 12 and have that many errors, you end up on the wrong side. We’ve had our struggles, but nothing even close to this. Maybe a few nerves today. Hopefully we shake off a few by next Saturday. It was nice to come here and hang with the big boys.”
Richland should play Auburn-Riverside, but will get Mead instead because the WIAA guidelines prohibit teams from the same conference from playing each other in the first round of state, unless there is no other option.
With the win, Jacobs’ Bombers have averaged 20 wins a season for the last 14 seasons. They also are vying for their sixth consecutive Final Four.
Despite all the gifts from the Bullpups, the Bombers didn’t unwrap them all, getting just five hits and leaving the bases loaded three times.
“I just may have to accept the fact we can’t hit,” said Jacobs, whose team has had 13 hits over its last two games. “We had five steals and they had those errors and we couldn’t bring them home.”
G-Prep opened the game with a double by Zach Bonneau, and he came around to score on a single by Matt Miller, but that would be it for the Bullpups, who left eight runners stranded.
The Bombers got the run back and more in the bottom of the inning, scoring four runs on two hits and three G-Prep errors.Leadoff hitter Corey Morris reach on a single and later scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Mason Hilty.
Dillan Klute and Connor Moore, who each drew walks following Morris, each scored on errant pick-off throws by G-Prep catcher Bonneau for a 3-1 lead.
Nate Ruane, who singled to reach base, scored on an errant pickoff throw to third by Bullpups pitcher Justin Blatner to put the Bombers on top 4-1.
“You have to capitalize on those errors,” Ruane said. “We are a fast team and we like to get out there and run and take advantage of catchers who can’t throw.”
Blatner, just a sophomore, struggled with control in the first, throwing 38 pitches and issuing three walks. He worked just three innings before being pulled in favor of Wyatt Mills.
“Not his best day,” Munhall said of Blatner. “He will be our big gun next weekend.”
The Bombers had a chance to do some serious damage throughout the game, but left the bases loaded in the second, fifth and sixth innings.
Richland did add one run to its total in the sixth as Morris scored on a single by Klute. Klute, Ruane and Gibson McGeorge would be left stranded as Elijah Gardaya struck out.
“We have to do better than that with guys in scoring position,” Ruane said.
Ruane pitched four innings before giving way to Hilty, who struck out six and gave up just one hit in three innings.
“Nate pitched his heart out,” Jacobs said. “Four strong innings with just one run. Mason shut the door. He came in with two on in the fifth and went 1-2-3. That was a key part of the game when he shut them down.”
Gonzaga Prep 100 000 0 — 1 5 6
Richland 400 001 x — 5 5 0
Blatner, Mills (4), Graves (6) and Bonneau; Ruane, Hilty (5) and Morris. Highlights—Bonneau (GP) 2B; Miller (GP) RBI; Klute (R) 2x3; Hilty (R) RBI, 6K; Morris (R) 2 runs.