Baseball’s mercy rule is a safety net to make sure blowout games don’t get too far out of hand.
So when the team that’s piling up all the big offensive numbers wants to head home from the park, you know things are spinning out of control.
The Twin City Titans downed the Spokane Bandits by a couple of touchdowns on a sizzling Sunday afternoon, winning 22-7 at Bomber Field to claim the top seed from the Richland super regional to next weekend’s Senior American Legion state tournament.
Twin City third baseman Drew Oord, whose bases-clearing double in the third inning blew the game wide open, said he knew it was going to be a long day about an hour into the game — and it was still the second inning.
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“A game like this, you just try to pad your stats,” said Oord, who had two doubles among his three hits and drove in five runs ... and wasn’t even the Titans’ top producer.
Jesser Houser crushed a grand slam in the fifth inning — the second time Twin City batted around in the game — and drove in six runs. He also threw three innings of solid relief, technically getting a save in the blowout.
“The hard part with a game like that is it drags on, and you don’t want your kids to pick up bad habits,” said Titans manager Pete Marquez.
Twin City opened with a six-spot in the first inning on just two hits — a couple of errors and five walks were the big blows to Spokane.
The big hits would come later — Mason Hilty, Dalton Johnson and Dillon Klute each had a double as the Titans banged out six extra-base hits.
But Spokane’s biggest problem was control. The Bandits walked 13 batters and hit four more — seven of those free passes coming with the bases loaded to force in a run.
Perhaps the biggest victim of all those freebies — and the laborious pace it forced on the game — was Hilty, who started on the mound and was lights out in the first inning: nine pitches, nine strikes, three up, three down.
But after sitting for close to 40 minutes in the bottom of the first, Hilty never regained his momentum. He gave back three runs in the bottom of the second with some uncharacteristic control troubles, then was hit up for a solo home run and an RBI double in the third.
“It’s so hard for a pitcher when you get that big lead,” Maruquez said.
As a team built from one high school state champion and another team that placed third, the Titans (45-16) have had lofty expectations placed upon them and for themselves.
With state starting up Saturday at Selah’s Carlon Park, this is when they start living up to the billing.
“We got out of district and we’re going to state,” Oord said. “And we’re not used to losing.”
Spokane 032 000 2 — 7 11 3
Twin City 605 371 x — 22 15 0
Tim Yoshihara, Miceal Taylor (2), Cory Gieffers (5), Devin Atchison (5) and Jack Chapman; Mason Hilty, Jesser Houser (5) and Ty Earley. Highlights—Corey Morris (TC) 2x3, 2 BB, HBP, 3R; Houser (TC) 2x4, GS HR, 6 RBI, 3R; Drew Oord (TC) 3x4, 2 2B, 5 RBI; Hilty (TC) 2B; Dalton Johnson (TC) 2x4, 2B, 2 RBI; Dillon Klute (TC) 2x3, 2B, RBI, 3R.
Hanford sweeps: The Flames got a pair of big-time pitching performances and piled up the hits in both games to prevail in a pair of must-win contests at the Centralia super regoinal.
Cody Kowalski emptied the bases with a double in the first inning, and Trevor Jones repeated the feat in the third as Hanford did all its scoring up front and then held on for a 12-6 win over defending state champ Bellingham Post 7.
“We needed one of our big hitters in the middle of the order to do something,” said Flames co-manager Nat Roe.
Bear Braich threw eight solid innings before Jalen DeVine closed out the ninth.
The win avenges a loss to Bellingham in Saturday’s opener. And Hanford needed to top the Spokane Cannons — a 12-1 victory — to get that second shot.
DeVine threw six innings of one-hit ball against Spokane before being lifted with an 8-0 lead, specifically so he could throw some relief innings against Bellingham.
The victories send the Flames back to state for the second straight season, a point of pride for the only senior legion team in the district fed by just one high school.
“The scrappy Flames are back at state,” Roe proclaimed.
Hanford 204 200 4 — 12 16 2
Spokane 000 000 1 — 1 5 3
Jalen DeVine, Jordan Burge (7) and Jake Browne; Cody McClacklin, JC Fink (4) and Wyatt Smith. Highlights—Scott Hiltfort (S) 2x3; Finn McMichael (H) 2x6; Browne (H) 3x4, 2 RBI, 3R; Brennan Sutey (H) 2x4; DeVine (H) 6IP-1H.
Bellingham 000 202 002 — 6 10 0
Hanford 507 000 00x — 12 12 3
Jordan Kreider, Jake Pender (1), Ben Wilson (3) and Robby Boyd; Bear Braich, DeVine (9) and Browne. Highlights—John Albert (B) 3x5, 2R; Mike Olson (B) 3x5; Tom Wilson (B) 2x4; McMichael (H) 2x3; Ryan Neal (H) 2x5; Isaac Benard (H) 2x4, 2 RBI; Trevor Jones (H) 2B, 3 RBI, 2R; Cody Kowalski (H) 2B, 3 RBI.
Kennewick 8, Yakima 4: Jordan Higley put together eight strong innings, and the Bandits got production from up and down the lineup to claim top prize at the Colfax super regional.
Five different players hit for extra bases for Kennewick, including JJ Hancock (home run), Jarod Gonzales (pair of doubles) and Cole Henderson (double and triple).
“We got it from top and bottom,” said Bandits manager Bryan Winston.
Kennewick put the game away with three runs in the seventh, a rally started by a hit-and-run single by Jared Newbry that scored Trek Stemp all the way from first.
The Beetles came back to beat Eastside Legion 13-7, giving the Central Washington League five of the eight berths to state.
“That says something about our league,” Winston said.
Yakima 101 000 011 — 4 11 0
Kennewick 110 021 30x — 8 13 2
Jensen, Juarez (7) and Alexander; Jordan Higley, Daniel Neville (9) and JJ Hancock. Highlights—Trek Stemp (K) 3x5, 2B; Jared Newbry (K) 2x3; Jarod Gonzales (K) 3x4, 2 2B; Hancock (K) HR; Steve Sordahl (K) 2B; Cole Henderson (K) 2x4, 2B, 3B.