Hanford and Mt. Spokane are very familiar with each other on the baseball diamond.
The Falcons and Wildcats have played each other early in the season the last two years. This year, Mt. Spokane led 6-5 going into the bottom of the seventh, but Hanford’s Aaron Enderlin hit a three-run homer with two outs to end the game.
“They have always been good games with Mt. Spokane and I’m sure tomorrow will be the same,” said Hanford coach Tom DeWitz. “I think we need play a clean game and I’d like to score a few runs. I know their guy is a pretty good pitcher, but we are confident in Jake (Anderson).”
Hanford (18-3) will play Mt. Spokane (17-4) at 1 p.m. today in the semifinals of the 3A District 5/8 tournament at Roy Johnson Field in Kennewick. The host Lions (20-1) and Shadle Park (15-6) open play at 10 a.m. The winners play each other at 4 p.m. to determine the No. 1 and 2 seeds to state, while the losers face off at 7 p.m. for the No. 3 seed.
“You like to see good baseball this time of year,” said Mt. Spokane coach Alex Schuerman. “It’s a good time for high schools players to showcase their skills. It will be a fun and potentially long day of baseball. We are just happy to be alive and hopefully will make some noise.”
The Wildcats feature senior right-hander Drew Rasmussen, who is bound for Oregon State. Rasmussen pitched a complete game, striking out 13, and hit a two-run home run in a win over Kamiakin on Tuesday.
“He’s quite a player. He’s one of the best we have ever had,” Schuerman said. “He has been a highlight for us all year.”
On the other side, the Falcons counter with senior center fielder Isaac Benard, who is hitting .465 with four home runs. He has signed to play at University of Washington.
“Benard is very legit,” Schuerman said. “We have seen him the last couple of years. He has raw power and is a disciplined player. It should be a good game.”
In the 4A District 5/8 at Hart Field in Spokane, Richland (12-10) will play Gonzaga Prep (19-3) at 10 a.m. today in a loser-out game, followed by Walla Walla (16-5) and Lewis and Clark (14-7) at 1 p.m. The winner will be the No. 1 seed to state, while the loser will play the winner of the first game at 4 p.m. for the No. 2 seed.
The Bombers, in a must-win situation, will start Gibson McGeorge against the Bullpups.
“We are going with our senior who has been there for us all year long,” said Richland coach Grant Richardson. It should be a good battle between two good baseball teams. We are ready to roll. Gotta win two to stay alive.”
If the past is any indication of things to come, the Bombers have beaten the Bullpups the last two years in regionals. In 2012, Richland won 5-1, and last year it shut out GP 8-0.
The Bullpups will go with Justin Blatner against the Bombers, with Steven Machtolf and Connor Cherry ready to come out of the bullpen.
Richland the GP split their preseason doubleheader this year, with the Bullpups winning the opener 4-2 and the Bombers the nightcap 12-11.
Walla Walla will throw sophomore Ryan Kimball against the Tigers today, while LC will counter with Ethan LaValley.
“We are pretty excited,” said Walla Walla coach Keith Gradwohl. “We are confident, but not over confident. Our kids are ready to rock and roll.”
The last time the Blue Devils went this deep into the postseason was 2011. But with a kid like Kimball on the mound and a strong summer of legion ball, Gradwohl is optimistic they can stretch their season out a little further.
“Ryan is pretty mature on the mound for a sophomore Gradwohl said. “He’s not intimidated by anyone. He wasn’t dominating against Richland last Saturday, his slider wasn’t working for him. Hopefully (today) he has all of his pitches.”
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