Third is good, second is better.
First is best.
The Southridge Suns finally know the feeling of winning a state baseball title after beating Kelso 11-6 in the 3A championship game Saturday night at Gesa Stadium.
"First feels way better than two or three," said Southridge senior pitcher Jake Harvey. "It will be nice to hang a gold banner in the gym."
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The banner will hang next to the 2004 state banner the Suns won when they played at the 4A level.
"This is not for me," Suns coach Tim Sanders said. "It's for the kids. They worked their asses off. They earned it."
Southridge was making its third consecutive appearance in the 3A Final Four. They placed second last year and third in 2016.
The title wrapped up a stellar weekend of Mid-Columbia baseball. Richland won the 4A title, and Tri-Cities Prep the 2B title to give all three major cities a baseball title in one spring for the first time.
"You gotta love it," Sanders said. "I'm so tickled for Grant (Richardson, Richland's coach), and (Jason) Jarrett at Tri-Cities Prep."
The Suns looked to put the game away with little drama as they entered the bottom of the seventh with an 11-2 lead over the Hilanders.
But the Suns' bullpen struggled, giving up four runs before Brendan Tool struck out Alex Ransom to finally close the door.
"It was a great team effort," said an exhausted Lane Hailey, who caught both games over the weekend for the Suns. "Everyone played their part. It's special to to bring this back to Southridge. It means a lot to us and the school."
Hailey more than did his part.
He hit an RBI single in the first inning as the Suns took a 2-0 lead.
In the fifth, he smacked an RBI triple to the right-field fence, and finished the night with a two-run double in the top of the seventh that gave Southridge an 11-2 lead.
"That's what he has done all year," Sanders said. "He came in hitting, and went out hitting."
Tool also had a good day at the plate with two singles and three RBIs. The Suns also scored a handful of runs off four Kelso errors.
Harvey pitched into the the sixth inning and was at 96 pitches when he came out. He scattered three hits and struck out four.
"At the start of the inning, I was running out of gas," Harvey said. When my slider isn't working, I don't have anything left. We still had arms. We just need to get that last out."
Sanders, who has seen Harvey grow up in his program, had nothing but praise for the senior who is headed to Oregon State.
"He has meant the world to us," Sanders said. "He's a yard rat who knows the game and loves the game. He's a quality player."