It is rare that a team goes 1-13 in league play but still has a shot to get to the state tournament, but that is exactly where the Pasco baseball team resides heading into today’s Mid-Columbia Conference 4A district semifinals.
The Bulldogs (5-16) upset Chiawana 4-3 in a first-round elimination game Tuesday, that after being swept by the Riverhawks in the regular season. Now, they face Walla Walla (6-13), a team they split with last week in the MCC finale.
The two teams meet at 11 a.m. at Bomber Field in Richland, with the winner advancing to play host Richland for seeding into next weekend’s regional tournament with the Greater Spokane League.
What it boils down to for Pasco is this: They are three wins away from just the second state berth in program history (1998 was the other).
“Our guys have lots of confidence,” Pasco coach Tyler Hockaday said. “Like I’ve been telling them, we’re playing great baseball, and now we’re putting the wins together.”
Hockaday added that the team had a big reaction to Tuesday’s win.
“Tremendous joy, I guess,” he said. “It’s a crosstown rivalry. It feels good to knock them off.”
It also felt good for the Bulldogs to get their second win in three games after starting the Mid-Columbia Conference 0-12 and going the better part of April without a win.
Hockaday added that the same advice he gave his players earlier this week — in big games, the team that gets past the jitters first tends to win — will apply to today.
“I told them before the game, let me be nervous. You guys play baseball,” he added.
Meanwhile, Richland has yet to play a postseason game after getting the last week off with the MCC 4A top seed. The Bombers (14-6) can get back to state for the sixth consecutive season with just two wins — today in the district championship and next weekend in the regional title game. Even with a loss today, they still would be two regional wins away from state.
Gonzaga Prep (19-1) and Ferris (13-7) play Monday to determine GSL seeding for the regional tournament.
MCC/GSL sub-regional: The MCC’s 3A teams have the weekend off coming off Tuesday’s regular-season finales, but they know for sure who they play next now that the GSL has wrapped.
Top-seeded Kennewick (17-3) will host Rogers (3-17) at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Roy Johnson Field. All the first-round games are elimination games, but it would be a big upset if the Lions were knocked off by the same team that was routed by Chiawana 22-0 and 17-2.
Southridge (14-6) will host a game against GSL No. 3 Shadle Park (10-10). Meanwhile, Hanford (11-9) plays at University High (10-8), and Kamiakin (10-10) entertains Sunnyside (2-15) on Monday, with the winner going to GSL No. 1 Mount Spokane (14-6) on Tuesday.
After Tuesday’s elimination games, the playoffs will be reseeded. Spokane will host next weekend’s play if the GSL has highest seed or is tied (if both No. 1s win).
Looking for some indication of how the MCC/GSL matchups could go? Aside from Chiawana rolling over Rogers back in March, there were four other cross-league matchups. Hanford beat Mount Spokane 6-2, and Richland beat MS 7-6. Gonzaga Prep swept Chiawana in a pair of close games, 6-3 and 6-4.