Just when it seemed like the Richland baseball team set the table for another classic Bombers victory, the Puyallup Vikings turned the tables on them.
Puyallup’s Quinn Rawson doubled to start the seventh inning, and pinch runner Trevor Charest came around on a sacrifice bunt and a sac fly to center for the game’s only run in a 1-0 thriller Friday evening at Gesa Stadium in Pasco.
Richland’s loss in the 4A state semifinal game will send the Bombers (21-6) to the third-place game at 1 p.m. today against Todd Beamer (18-7).
Puyallup (22-5) will play Kentwood (25-2) in the championship at 7 p.m. after the Conquerors won 8-5 in the other semifinal.
“It’s baseball. What can you say?” said Richland coach Ben Jacobs, who has guided the Bombers to six consecutive final fours and 10 overall. “We played great defense. It was a great game to watch.”
Unfortunately for the Bombers, they watched a few too many scoring chances pass them by as junior ace Mason Hilty was in a pitching tête-á-tête with Puyallup senior Matt Becker.
Each pitcher gave up just four hits. The difference was three of the Vikings’ hits were doubles, including the one that finally came around. Also, while Richland was playing sharp defense, Puyallup committed three errors.
But the Bombers never made them pay.
Richland had runners in scoring position in four innings, including the sixth and seventh innings with one out.
“That’s just kind of the way the season’s been,” Jacobs said. “Someone’s got to step up. We got multiple base-running opportunities. Someone has got to get a hit.”
In the sixth, Dillan Klute led off with a single, stole second and was bunted to third by Connor Moore. But Hilty fought off a tough pitch and wound up chopping it back to the pitcher, giving Klute no chance to come home. The inning ended on Nate Ruane’s sharp grounder to second.
The seventh went in similar fashion, with Gibson McGeorge notching his second hit to lead off and getting to second on a bunt. But a pair of fly balls ended the threat and the game.
“We just didn’t come ready to hit,” Hilty said after the Bombers made 12 of their 21 outs on fly balls or pop-ups, not good for a team that predicates its offense on speed.
“We just missed on (Becker) — he kept us off balance.”
As did Hilty, drawing praise from his coach.
“He did a great job,” Jacobs said. “Any time you give up four hits and one run, you as a pitcher should win the game.”
Especially when the defense is sound — or spectacular, like the leaping catch Dalton Johnson made in right to save a run in the second inning.
Kentwood 8, Todd Beamer 5: The power-hitting Conquerors usually pile up the runs, but a pair of Beamer errors led to four runs in the fourth and fifth innings and secured the win for Kentwood.
Puyallup 000 000 1 — 1 4 3
Richland 000 000 0 — 0 4 0Matt Becker and Brenden Illies; Mason Hilty and Corey Morris. Highlights—Becker (P) 7IP-4H-0R-2K-0BB; Lee Larson (P) 2B; Illies (P) 2B; Quinn Rawson (P) 2B; Hilty (R) 7IP-4H-1R-1BB-3K; Gibson McGeorge (R) 2x3.