Clark Brown looked up at the scoreboard still aglow past the left-field fence at Bomber Field and summed up the day for his baseball team.
“If you look at the hits and errors, you would think we got killed,” the Kiona-Benton coach said his club lost 5-2 to Naches Valley in the SCAC district title game Saturday night.
Indeed, the victorious Rangers, top seeds from the West, had a runner touch second base in every inning except the last one, applying constant pressure to the No. 1 team from the East.
The result was Ki-Be ace Daniel Deaton battling for his baseball life, and coming up big just to stay afloat and stay in the game.
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“I didn’t throw strikes those first two innings,” said Deaton, who issued three of his four free passes early on, “and they had a lot of bunt hits that we could have played better.”
But while Naches Valley outhit Ki-Be 13-5, the Bears wriggled out of big trouble most of the time, forcing the Rangers to strand 11 runners.
Still, when Naches plated three runs in the fourth — two on a bad-hop single, another on a pair of wild pitches — the four-run edge was pretty steep considering the way Rangers starter Noel Gonzalez was zipping through the lineup.
With a fastball clocked in the mid-80s — hot stuff for the smaller schools — Gonzalez allowed just two hits in four innings. When he gave up a walk and John Kortz’s double to start the fifth, he was lifted, and Koleman Johns came on with similar stuff.
“They threw pretty fast,” Deaton said, “and we’re not used to that kind of velocity.”
Kortz finished with three of Ki-Be’s five hits, and the Bears scored both their runs on wild pitches in the fifth. But their best chance for a big inning came back in the third, when they loaded the bases with two out but couldn’t deliver.
“We couldn’t get the big hit a couple of times,” Brown said. “Daniel, I thought he threw a pretty good game. They had runners out there the whole day.
Though they lost the district title game, the Bears already had secured a second straight berth to state.
Ki-Be (17-6) will play Lakeside at Dan White Field in East Wenatchee at 1 p.m. next Saturday, after SCAC NO. 4 plays Cashmere at 10 a.m. The winners play at 4 p.m.
The Rangers (19-2) head to Moses Lake’s Larson Playfield next Saturday, taking on the fifth seed from District 1/2/3 at 10 a.m. SCAC NO. 3 plays Colville at 1 p.m., and the winners face off at 4 p.m.
Naches Valley 010 310 0 — 5 13 1
Kiona-Benton 000 020 0 — 2 5 2
Noel Gonzalez, Koleman Johns (5) and Ben Wells; Daniel Deaton and Todd Riley. Highlights—Austin Molner (NV) 2x4, RBI, R, SB, BB; Gonzalez (NV) 2x2, 2 BB, SB; Cole Gilman (NV) 2x3, 2 RBI, R; Cam Walker (NV) 3x4; Corey Hill (NV) 2x4, R; John Kortz (KB) 3x4, 2B, R; Jimmy Gifford (KB) 1x2, 2 BB.