Hanford’s hitters were about an hour removed from being wrung out in Mason Hilty’s masterful one-hit shutout Tuesday and seemed to be headed in the same direction three innings into Levi Broeske’s start for the Richland Bombers.
That’s when Ryan Colson stepped to the plate and played the role of unlikely hero.
Colson unloaded the first pitch he saw the other way, sending it over the right fielder’s head for a two-run double. The hit jump-started Hanford’s batters, and the Falcons went on to a 10-6 win and a split with the visiting Bombers in a Mid-Columbia Conference baseball twinbill at Waits Field.
“I was just looking to put the ball in play,” Colson said. “I haven’t been hitting the ball well.”
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No one was against Hilty, who struck out eight and walked one in Richland’s 6-0 opening win. Only Austin Taylor’s clean single in the fourth fended off a no-no.
“I felt good,” said Hilty, who signed last week to play ball at juco power College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls. “Tempo was good. Everything worked for me.”
Like pounding the zone with fastballs early and working his slider late. He set down the first 10 he faced and the last eight.
“He had total control that game,” Richland coach Grant Richardson said.
Hilty also went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI, but the Bombers (11-6, 6-4 MCC) mostly dinked-and-dunked their way to six runs as Hanford’s hitter-friendly park was deadened by a stiff wind knocking everything down.
Gibson McGeorge drove in runs in the first and third innings, and Sheldon Liikala had an RBI and scored twice.
Hanford starter Jalen DeVine didn’t pitch badly but didn’t get the first two outs easy in any inning until his last, a 1-2-3 sixth.
The Falcons (8-6, 5-3) managed just one hit against Broeske through three innings and trailed 2-0.
That’s when Brennan Sutey led off the fourth with a sharp single to right, and Cody Kowalski poked a ball to left for his second hit of the game.
One out later, Colson got his chance and took full advantage. Both runners scored easily as his drive to right nearly reached the fence. Colson was thrown out trying to stretch it to a triple, but the hitting gates were opened.
Three more runs scored in the fifth on Taylor’s RBI single and then a pair of hit batters with the bases loaded after Broeske was relieved.
The Falcons stuck five more on the board in the sixth, including an RBI single on Sutey third hit of the game and two more on a single from (guess who?) Colson.
“After getting stuffed in the first game and then in the first three innings of the second game we did the same thing, I was wondering if we didn’t bring any bats at all,” said Hanford coach Tom DeWitz. “(Colson’s hit) got our bats going. After that, the fourth, fifth and sixth innings we hit better.”
Richland made it interesting with three runs in the seventh but couldn’t get the big hit it needed after the bases were loaded on walks. Indeed, the Bombers never took full advantage of 11 free passes from Hanford in the second game.
Still, Richardson said, the Bombers got back to winning after dropping three of four last week.
“The way we played last week, we looked improved,” Richardson said. “We got through 10 innings, and then we stopped.”
Richland 112 200 0 — 6 9 0
Hanford 000 000 0 — 0 1 2
Mason Hilty and Tyler Kjarmo; Jalen DeVine, Nate Mitchell (7) and Aaron Enderlin. Highlights—Hilty (R) 7IP-1H-1BB-0R-8K, 2x3, 2B, RBI; Sheldon Liikala (R) 2x4, RBI, 2R; Gibson McGeorge (R) 1x3, 2 RBI; Kjarmo (R) 2x2.
Richland 011 001 3 — 6 4 0
Hanford 000 235 x — 10 12 3
Levi Broeske, Carson Miller (5), Nate Ruane (7), AJ Shaw (7) and Kjarmo; Jacob Anderson, Sawyer Henry (5), Mitchell (7) and Enderlin. Highlights—Austin Taylor (H) 2x4, RBI, 2R; Brennan Sutey (H) 3x4, RBI, 3R, SB; Cody Kowalski (H) 2x3, R; Ryan Colson (H) 2x4, 2B, 4 RBI.