There’s nothing like waiting until the bottom of the seventh inning to extend your season.
Kennewick, which trailed by a run entering the bottom of the seventh, scored two runs to slip past Rogers 3-2 in District 5/8 play Tuesday at Roy Johnson Field.
“That’s the playoffs,” said Lions coach A.J. Marquardt. “You take a win when you can. Everyone is 0-0 in the first round and it will be tight no matter who you play.”
On Saturday, Kennewick (20-1) will host the District 5/8 semifinals. Hanford (18-3) will play
Mt. Spokane (17-4) at 10 a.m., followed by Kennewick (20-1) and Shadle Park (15-6) at 1 p.m. The two winners will play at 4 p.m. in the championship game, with both advancing to the state regionals.
The losers of the first two games will play at 7 p.m. for the third seed to the state regionals.
The Lions were baffled by Rogers starter Evan Norden the entire game. The junior righthander offered up an array of pitches, but had an affinity for the curveball.
“After that first inning, we started to expect the curveball,” said Kennewick centerfielder Steven Sordahl. “We came back in and told the rest of the team. It was all curveballs all day.”
Added rightfielder JJ Hancock, “That curveball owned us. It wasn’t a crazy curveball, but it baffled us.”
Norden struck out five through six innings and carried a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh. By then, it didn’t matter what he threw, the Lions were in desperation mode and put the ball in play.
No. 7 hitter Quentin Lafontaine singled to reach base, followed by Malik Sitler, who beat out a perfectly placed bunt toward first base.
Dillon Plew dribbled a bunt toward third base that Norden couldn’t make a play on, loading the bases for Sordahl at the top of the order.
Sordahl smacked the first pitch from Norden to deep centerfield where Zach Day made the out, but Lafontaine crossed home plate to tie the score at 2-2.
“In the dugout, everyone was up and motivated to get one run,” Sordahl said. “We focused on getting our bunts down and things started to go our way. As soon as we got that first run, and with JJ coming up, I knew he’d put the ball in play.”
And he did.
Hancock laced a single to the right-center gap, sending Sitler home for the winning run.
“I felt no pressure whatsoever when Steven got that guy in,” Hancock said of going to the plate. “Once the first run was in we could do what we wanted. I just had to put the ball in play. The bottom of the order saved us. Now, we have to work harder. We can’t let this happen again.”
The Lions got off to a good start as Sordahl opened the game with a double and went home on a Hancock single to right field.
The Pirates (5-15) got the run back in the top of the second with a solo home run by James Welty, then took a 2-1 lead in the fourth when Cody Risinger scored on Robby’s Dierks’ fielder’s choice.
Rogers kept the Lions at bay until the seventh inning.
“That’s what a championship team does — they win,” said Pirates coach Jim Wasem. “Our kids were hoping to win. Evan has a curveball that is hard to hit. We played some great defense. We threw out a runner at second (in the fifth inning) and our centerfielder (Zach Day) made a great play (a diving catch in the fifth inning on a hit by Sordahl). We didn’t execute the bunt and that hurt us.”
Rogers 010 100 0 — 2 9 2
Kennewick 100 000 2 — 3 9 1
One out when winning run scored
Evan Norden and Cody Risinger; Mark Driver, Matt Driver (5), Colton Plew (7) and Dylan Wilbert. Highlights—James Welty (R) 2x3, HR, RBI; Robby Dierks (R) 2x3, RBI; Brayden Olson 2x3; Risinger (R) 2B; Steven Sordahl (K) 2B, RBI; JJ Hancock (K) 2x4, 2 RBIs; Malik Sitler (K) 2x3; Dillon Plew (K) 2x3, 2B.