If there was a lesson to be taken from the first game of Friday’s Mid-Columbia Conference baseball doubleheader between Kamiakin and Hanford at LaPierre Field, it was that if a team can just hang in there long enough and make a few plays — and get a terrific effort on the mound — it can make something good happen.
Kaden Enriquez’s two-run single ignited a four-run fourth inning, Easton Henke threw six innings of one-hit ball, and the Braves topped the Falcons 4-3 on a gorgeous afternoon for baseball.
The Braves made it a sweep in the second game, prevailing in a 2-1 pitching duel when the winning run walked home in the bottom of the eighth inning.
“I was very pleased with our pitching all day,” Kamiakin coach Ryan Carter said.
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In the second game, Cory Schouviller threw all eight innings for the Braves, giving up five hits and two walks while striking out six.
Ryan Nix was equally effective for the Falcons, going six innings with four hits, three walks and seven strikeouts.
“It was a really good pitchers’ duel,” Carter said.
Henke struck out five in the opener, walked two and hit a batter. The single runs he gave up in the second and third innings were unearned.
Enriquez went 2-for-3 and finally delivered a timely hit against Hanford starter Conner Sutey after the Braves failed to capitalize on chances in the first three innings.
“I was just looking for a good pitch to hit,” said Enriquez, who got it on a 3-1 fastball as Sutey temporarily lost his lock on the strike zone in the inning.
Mike Jones and Justin Larsen, who moved up to second and third on Tyson Brown’s one-out sacrifice bunt, scored easily on the play.
The runs stoked the Kamiakin dugout, and Jethro Questad and Cooper Ellison followed with singles to plate another run. The final run came home on a botched rundown between first and second.
Henke made the good fortune stand up, coming right back with his easiest inning of the day in the top of the fifth to cement the momentum swing.
“Easton comes out, pounds the zone — 1-2-3,” Enriquez said. “That was huge.”
The first game ended on a bang-bang play in the top of the seventh. Hanford got the tying run on with two out thanks to a pair of walks from reliever Chase Krumm.
Hanford’s No. 5 hitter, Brian Sands, then singled to left, but Tanner Kirk delivered a strike from the outfield to the plate that had runner Rob Young dead to rights. Fortunately for the Falcons, the ball caromed off Brown’s catcher’s mitt. Unfortunately for Hanford, the ball bounced directly to Krumm backing up the play, and his throw to third was in time to nail the runner trying to move up on the play.
On the mound
Sutey threw well except for that one inning, where he suddenly lost command of the strike zone. He went all six innings for Hanford and gave up 10 hits, one walk and one hit batter while striking out three.
“In that fourth inning, he started falling behind some guys and had to throw fastballs three pitches in a row,” Hanford coach Tom DeWitz said.
“I felt like we pitched the ball well enough,” DeWitz added. “Sutey threw the ball well. Our base running was good. We just have to get more two-out hits.
“The little things add up in a 4-3 game.”
Indeed, situational hitting was rough on both teams. Hanford stranded eight runners, including men in scoring position in five innings. Kamiakin left a runner on in every inning, four times in scoring position.
That trend continued in the second game as Kamiakin left 10 more on base and Hanford seven.
Both teams struggled to locate fly balls as the sun on a cloudless day made for a high sky. Several balls dropped in or were dropped by both sides, even certain infield pop-ups.
“We booted the ball a little bit,” Carter said. “But (Henke) always got the next guy. He really competed all day.”
Highlights: Conner Sutey (H) 6IP-10H-4R-1BB-3K, Brian Sands (H) 2x4, RBI; Easton Henke (K) 6IP-1H-0ER-2BB-5K; Mike Jones (K) 2x3, 2B; Kaden Enriquez (K) 2x3, 2 RBIs; Jethro Questad (K) 2x3, R.
Highlights: Ryan Nix (H) 6IP-4H-1ER-3BB-7K; Brady White (H) 2B, RBI; Brian Sands (H) 2x4, 2B; Cory Schouviller (K) 8IP-5H-1ER-2BB-6K; Nate Gee (K) 2x3, 2B; Justin Larsen (K) 2B.
Kevin Anthony: 509-582-1403