No, third place was not the trophy the Kennewick baseball team had its heart set on coming into the Class 3A state championships at Gesa Stadium in Pasco.
And it is not much comfort to the Lions knowing they just as easily could have been playing in the championship game as Saturday morning’s consolation contest.
So how did Kennewick come back from Friday’s heartbreaking semifinal loss?
Senior hurler Clayten Ayres threw a three-hit gem for the Lions, and junior second baseman Larry Dewitt got to finish with a smile and a 4-for-4 day at the plate to spark the offense in a 6-1 win over Mount Si.
“We would love to have played at 4 (in the championship), but we came out in a (tough) situation and handled it well,” said Ayres, who walked one and struck out five to improve to 8-1. “Coaches preached to us, only two teams win their last game of the season. Ending my senior year with a win was really great.”
The Lions (22-4) earned their first state trophy since winning it all in 2008, and they did it with flare.
Kennewick piled up 11 hits on offense, with Dylan Wilbert going 2-for-4 and Kaden Julian driving in a pair of runs from the nine hole.
It was Julian’s hit that capped a three-run outburst in the fourth inning for the game’s first runs. It all started with Dewitt’s two-out infield single. He then stole second and came around on Alex Storaci’s sharp single to left.
Colton Plew kept the inning alive with another single, and he and pinch runner Charlie Dewitt scored when Julian’s fly to left got lost in a high sky and landed cleanly for a double.
The bottom half of the Kennewick lineup accounted for seven of the team’s hits, four runs and four RBIs.
“It really was a good day,” said DeWitt, who had two errors during a costly sixth inning in Kennewick’s 6-4 loss to Auburn Mountainview on Friday.
He misplayed a third ball to start the second inning Saturday. But rather than go in the tank, he broke out the bat, starting that two-out rally in the fourth, getting an RBI hit in the fifth and another base knock in the seventh before coming across for the game’s final run.
“I wanted to redeem myself and not go out like that,” Dewitt said. “I wanted to end the year how I played the whole year.”
Ayres ended his season and career at Kennewick with perhaps his best outing, and he needed just 84 pitches. He didn’t allow a hit or walk through four innings and rarely gave up even a hard-hit ball until Mount Si (18-7) started the fifth with a double and RBI single.
“It was one of those days where I had all my stuff working. Fastball, slider, changeup — everything worked,” said Ayres, who was smooth even while snaring a hot-shot come-backer at his head in the third.
“Clayten pitched his fanny off,” said Kennewick coach A.J. Marquardt. “I couldn’t be more proud of this team and how far they’ve come.
“On Friday, no one wants to play in this game. It’s a testament to the senior leadership that they came out and played inspired ball. ... It’s a bounce-back game. They had their hearts ripped out, and they had the guts to do it. That’s OK.”
Kentridge 4, Kentwood 3: The neighborhood rivals hoped to meet in the 4A championships, just not in the third-place game. And a McGuire was expected to have a big game, just not this one.
Travis McGuire doubled in a pair of runs to lead the Chargers offense, and Sam Dacus went the distance on the mound as Kentridge posted its highest finish ever.
Dan McGuire, Kentwood’s marvelous catcher projected to be drafted early in the first round, capped his high school career with an 0-for-3 day.
Kennewick 6, Mount Si 1
Kennewick 000 310 2 — 6 11 2
Mount Si 000 010 0 — 1 3 3
Clayten Ayres and Dylan Wilbert; Connor Swift, Nick Adams (7) and Zach Usselman. Highlights—Larry Dewitt (K) 4x4, RBI, 2R; Kaden Julian (K) 2B, 2 RBI; Ayres (K) 7IP-3H-1R-1BB-5K; Evan Johnson (MS) 2B; Usselman (MS) 2B.
Kentridge 4, Kentwood 3
Kentridge 010 200 1 — 4 9 1
Kentwood 100 100 1 — 3 6 1
Sam Dacus and Zach Beatty; Kade Kryzsko and Reese McGuire. Highlights—Andrew Barrera (Krdg) 3x4, R; Joe Wainhouse (Krdg) 3B; Joel Condreay (Krdg) 2x3, 2B, RBI; Travis McGuire (Krdg) 2-R 2B; Isaiah Terry (Krdg) 2x2, 2R.