SELAH — They were coming off a mercy-rule thumping, facing a team that won the previous night in dramatic, ninth-inning fashion, and playing in a loser-out game on a hostile field.
Down a couple runs late, their pitching suddenly running into some control problems — yeah, you could say the Kennewick Bandits were up against it Monday afternoon at Carlon Park.
But, like one expects from a team stacked with veteran performers, the Bandits made the plays when they had to.
A trio of two-out, RBI singles rallied the Bandits in the eighth inning, and Stetson Plew recovered from his one shaky inning for a marvelous complete game in a 5-3 win over the Yakima Valley Pepsi Pak in the Senior American Legion state tournament.
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Meanwhile, the Twin City Titans didn’t experience near that much drama in an 8-2 win over the Spokane Bandits in another loser-out game later in the day.
Johnny Jansen and Colton Shelby each drove in a pair of runs during a five-run first inning, and the Titans rode starter Mason Hilty to the finish line.
“This guy was great. He threw lights out,” said Shelby, the Titans catcher.
The victories leave Twin City and Kennewick among the four teams alive for a berth to Northwest Regionals Aug. 8-13 in Billings, Mont.
Both local teams need to win today or they are done. Twin City plays Lakeside at 6 p.m., while Kennewick faces Centralia at 3 p.m.
Shelby’s description of Hilty’s outing — which included four hits, two walks, 10 strikeouts and no earned runs — easily fit Plew’s game for the Bandits.
He struck out 12, walked two, hit two batters and allowed five hits. Of his four free passes, three came during a hiccup in the sixth inning to set the table for Yakima Valley’s Steve Wager, whose two-run double landed just out of reach of diving left fielder Cole Henderson.
Plew bounced back from the three-run frame with three more dominant innings, giving up a pair of infield singles the rest of the way.
“Just a gutsy effort,” said Kennewick manager Bryan Winston, adding that he was watching Plew closely from the sixth inning on. “He didn’t want to come out of the game.”
It was Plew’s first start in three weeks after he was shut down with a sore shoulder, made more impressive by covering nine innings rather than the usual seven for Legion and high school games.
“I felt fine physically,” he said. “My arm felt good.”
The Kennewick batters finally strung some hits together in the eighth, after letting slip their 2-0 lead built by RBI singles from Matt Mendenhall in the first and Jared Newbry in the fifth.
Mendenhall got things started with one out in the eighth with his third hit of the day. Clayten Ayers then singled to left but was forced at second on Dylan Maurer’s grounder to short.
With two out and two on, ever-dangerous Trek Stemp stepped in. After grounding out in the same situation two innings earlier, Stemp hit a shot off the mound that bounded up the middle to drive in Mendenhall and tie the game at 3-all.
Brandon Pocasangre, who earlier made a nifty glove toss for an out in the field, delivered a single to left for the lead, and JJ Hancock capped the rally with an RBI hit through the right side of the infield.
Pocasangre said the Kennewick hitters were due against Pepsi Pak starter Hugo Lemus.
“He was really spotting his offspeed stuff early in the count,” said Pocasangre, who went 2-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt hitting in the eight hole. “Once it was his third time through (the lineup), we were getting balls we wanted to hit.”
Like the Bandits, the Titans were coming off a lop-sided loss. But they didn’t waste any time jumping on Spokane, a team they beat 22-7 eight days earlier.
Monday’s game started in much the same fashion as a couple of walks, a hit batter and an error set the stage for Jansen’s two-run single and Shelby’s two-run double, sandwiched around Andrew Castillo’s RBI single.
But after that big start, the Twin City offense slowed down as Spokane’s Blake Bozett moved over from second to the pitcher’s mound after the first inning and threw seven solid relief frames.
Still, Hilty didn’t need any more support, working around a couple of unearned runs in the third and fourth innings to set down 15 of the last 18 he faced.
“I just gave it what I always do,” Hilty said of getting the ball in a must-win game. “I wanted this one.”
Yakima Valley 000 003 000 — 3 5 1
Kennewick 100 010 03x — 5 13 3
Hugo Lemus, Koleman Johns (8) and Ben Wells; Stetson Plew and Dylan Maurer. Highlights—Steve Wager (YV) 2-R 2B; Jared Newbry (K) 2x5, RBI; Steven Sordahl (K) 2x4, R, SB; Matt Mendenhall (K) 3x4, RBI, R; Brandon Pocasangre (K) 2x3, RBI; Plew (K) 9IP-5H-3ER-2BB-12K.
Spokane 001 100 000 — 2 4 5
Kamiakin 510 020 00x — 8 11 3
Karver Pate, Balke Bozett (2) and John Chapman, Devin Atchison (2); Mason Hilty and Colton Shelby, Tori Weitz (7). Highlights—Nate Ruane (TC) 2x3, R, HBP, BB; Drew Oord (TC) 2x4, R; Johnny Jansen (TC) 2 RBI; Shelby (TC) 2-R 2B.