In the end, the Southridge baseball team really didn’t have much at stake in Saturday’s 9-6 win over Walla Walla in the Mid-Columbia Challenge at Gesa Stadium.
The annual regular-season finale with all eight Mid-Columbia Conference teams at the same ballpark started with Kennewick’s 13-1 win over Hanford, locking up the league title for the Lions as well at the top seed in the MCC 3A district tournament.
So when the Suns made their first pitch, they knew they were a second seed with no ground to gain or lose.
Doesn’t mean they didn’t want to shine, though.
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Jake Harvey doubled, tripled and drove in two runs, and Jashaun Simon hit a key two-run double in the sixth inning as Southridge rallied after giving up an early four-run lead against the Blue Devils.
“The last two games for us were competitive games, and today felt playoff-ish,” Southridge coach Tim Sanders said. “In the yard with different teams, it felt like a playoff.
“We saw some good arms these last two days, and that set us up for what we’re going to see next week when it matters.”
No. 3 Kamiakin will host No. 4 Hanford in a loser-out game Friday, with the winner playing Southridge next Saturday at Kennewick’s Roy Johnson Field. The Lions play the survivor, with both teams advancing to reigonals.
On the 4A side, Walla Walla is tied with Richland atop the 4A standings after the Bombers lost 5-4 to Kamiakin. Richland will host the Blue Devils in a tiebreaker at 5 p.m. Tuesday to determine who will host next Saturday’s games.
No. 3 Chiawana will host No. 4 Pasco in a loser-out game Friday.
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Suns strike first
Southridge hung four runs on the board in the second inning against Wa-Hi starter Mitch Lesmeister, with a bases-loaded balk and walk aiding the Suns.
The game seemed well in hand with Southridge ace Bradley Morgan carrying a no-hitter into the fourth. But Wa-Hi catcher Futa Ikuma demolished a changeup up in the zone, a Bob Moon-shot off the sign above the left-field wall for a leadoff home run.
“I told the kids after the third inning, we’re just one gapper from being in this ballgame,” Walla Walla coach Keith Gradwohl said.
A couple of misplayed fly balls in the outfield led into four consecutive singles and were capped by a gorgeous squeeze bunt by Dexter Aichele. It resulted in a five-run frame and a one-run lead that stretched to 6-4 heading into the sixth.
In the top of the inning, Ethan Sanders singled in front of Mason Martin’s pinch-hit double down the right-field line. Simon then smacked a two-run two-bagger to tie the game. Harvey’s triple — highlighted by incredible first-to-third speed on a gapper that didn’t reach the wall — gave the Suns the lead for good.
“I’m always thinking second base out of the box,” said Harvey, a sophomore who already has committed to play college ball for Oregon State.
He added an RBI double in the seventh, and the Suns bullpen of Ethan Sanders and Mathew Oldham were solid over the final three-plus innings of relief.
Around the Park
KENNEWICK 13, HANFORD 1: Trent Sellers pitched five sterling innings, and hit two doubles, a triple and drove in four runs as the Lions topped the Falcons.
“He was fantastic,” Hanford coach Tom DeWitz said of Sellers. “Kennewick hit the ball well and they took it to us. We are a little young and aren’t hitting the ball really well.”
Dusty Durflinger led Hanford with a triple and score its only run.
CHIAWANA 7, PASCO 5: Marco Romero and Brayde Hirai combined for five innings of shutout relief, and the Riverhawks rallied after falling into a 5-0 hole.
Corey Salinas went 3-for-3 with a double and two RBIs for Chiawana. Zeff Rivas and Dominick Monville each tripled and drove in two runs for Pasco.
Highlights: Anders Davidson (WW) 2 RBI; Futa Ikuma (WW) 2x4, HR; Connor Lemma (WW) 2x3, 2B, RBI; Jake Harvey (S) 3x4, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, BB; Kyle Harvey (S) 2x3, RBI; Ryan Sanders (S) 1x2, 2B, HBP, BB; Lane Hailey (S) 2x4, RBI; Mason Martin (S) 2B; Jashaun Simon (S) 2x4, 2B, 2 RBI, 2R.
Highlights: Trent Sellers (K) 5 IP, 3K, 2BB, 3x4, 2 2B, 3B, 4 RBIs; Charlie DeWitt (K) 2x4, 2B; Dusty Durflinger (H) 1x3, 3B.
Highlights: Jacob Koenig-Smith (P) 2B; Zeff Rivas (P) 2x4, 3B, 2 RBI; Dominick Monville (P) 2x4, 3B, 2 RBI; Emilio Davila (P) 2x4; Omar Avila (P) 2x3; Marco Romero (C) 3.1IP-4H-2K-0R; Brayde Hirai (C) 1.2IP-1H-3K; Trent Simpkins (C) 2x3, 3B; Troy Simpkins (C) 2B; Andrew Vargas (C) 2x4, 2B, 2R; Ben Garza (C) 2x3; Corey Salinas (C) 3x3, 2 RBI, 2B.
Kennewick 13, Hanford 1
Southridge 9, Walla Walla 6
Chiawana 7, Pasco 5
Kamiakin vs. Richland, 7 p.m.