SELAH — The Kennewick Bandits have become used to playing on the edge, but what they got themselves into Tuesday afternoon at Carlon Park was a whole new level of hairy.
Kennewick was in a five-run hole dug even before the Bandits took their first turn at the plate. When they did get their cuts, the Bandits made them count, pounding out 18 hits in a 13-10 win over Centralia Sobe in an elimination game at the Senior American Legion state tournament.
“We’ve kind of been doing it all season, getting down and coming back,” said Kennewick third baseman Matt Mendenhall, whose two-run homer followed Jarod Gonzales’ two-run double in the sixth inning as the Bandits took the lead for the first time and held on.
The win sends the Bandits into the championship round. Unfortunately for Mid-Columbia baseball fans, they won’t be joined by rival Twin City, which suffered a 12-2 loss to Lakeside Recovery in the evening game, ending the Titans’ season.
“We didn’t take care of what we needed to take care of,” Titans manager Peter Marquez said.
Lakeside’s 10-run, seven-inning win came two days after it hung a 17-5 loss on Kennewick in another mercy-rule game. The Bandits need to beat tourney-unbeaten Lakeside twice today — first pitch is set for 5 p.m. — to advance to the Northwest Regionals in Billings, Mont. Lakeside needs just one win.
Kennewick 13, Centralia 10: With the two teams combining for 34 hits, there would not appear to be much room for good pitching. But Bandits manager Bryan Winston praised starter Jordan Higley, who bounced back from a five-run first (all unearned) for a solid five-inning effort, allowing the his team to get back in it.
“He did a good job keeping us in it,” said Winston, noting that reliever Clayten Ayers did his job for four innings, only running into trouble during a three-run ninth when the Bandits were happy to trade for outs.
Additionally, despite making four errors, Kennewick made the defensive plays it had to — Mendenhall started a 5-3 doubleplay with a diving stop on the line to keep Centralia off the board in the second; Brandon Pocasangre and Jared Newbry turned two more twin killings up the middle; and a leadoff double in the fifth never came home.
But the big damage was done at the plate, starting with a five-run second inning to get right back in the game.
“It was huge to get back in the mix of things and not play down,” Mendenhall said. “It’s good for the pitchers, takes the pressure off.”
Two of the biggest hits in the frame were infield singles, first by JJ Hancock on a nubber to first where he beat the covering second baseman to the bag, and then by Newbry after he lined a ball off the Centralia pitcher and hustled down the line to drive in Kennewick’s third run and keep the inning going.
“It’s nice to see players going 100 percent,” Gonzales said. “You never know in baseball. You can’t give up — anything can happen.”
What happened was Kennewick had an answer for Centralia the rest of the game. When Sobe scored in the fourth, Gonzales drove in Trek Stemp with a sacrifice fly.
Sobe stuck another run on the board in the sixth, and then the Bandits threw a staggering blow with back-to-back one-out singles from Stemp and Newbry, Gonzales’ two-run double blistered down the right-field line, and then Mendenhall’s bomb over the left-field fence.
Every batter in the Kennewick lineup had a hit, including three each for Newbry, Gonzales and Pocasangre.
Lakeside 12, Twin City 2: The Titans were chasing from the start as Lakeside’s first three batters loaded the bases, and cleanup hitter Jimmy Sinatro unloaded them with a double to center.
Sinatro turned out to be a Titan killer, doubling and scoring in the fourth, singling and scoring in the sixth and then ending the game with a walkoff, two-run bomb over the left-field fence.
Indeed, he did it his way.
“It’s just one of those days when you come out and not much goes right,” said Jesse Houser, who along with Drew Oord, Andrew Castillo, Dillon Klute, Connor Moore and Corey Morris helped the the Titans win a team-record 97 games in two years.
Twin City’s batters were limited to a pair of singles — Dalton Johnson and Ty Earley — and only got the leadoff runner on base in one inning.
Centralia 500 101 003 — 10 16 2
Kennewick 050 104 21x — 13 18 4
Dominic Angwood, Brandon Conradi (6) and Keylen Steen; Jordan Higley, Clayten Ayers (5) and Dylan Maurer. Highlights—Dugan Shirer (C) 2x5; Mason Musselman (C) 2x5, 2B, RBI; Steen (C) 2x5, 2 2B; Andrew Elam (C) 2x4, 2B; Ty Housden (C) 4x5, 2 RBI, 2R; Trek Stemp (K) 2x4, 2R; Jared Newbry (K) 3x6, 2B, RBI, 2R; Jarod Gonzales (K) 3x3, 2B, 3 RBI; Matt Mendenhall (K) 2-R HR; JJ Hancock (K) 2x4, 2B; Maurer (K) 2x5, RBI, 2R; Brandon Pocasangre (K) 3x5, 2B, 2 RBI, 2R.
Twin City 001 010 0 — 2 2 1
Lakeside 311 103 3 — 12 15 3
Two outs when 10-run rule invoked.
Jacob Valdez, Levi Broeske (4), Corey Morris (7) and Ty Earley; Ethan Kalin and Jimmy Sinatro. Highlights—Earley (TC) 1x3; Dalton Johnson (TC) 1x2; Sinatro (L) 4x5, 2 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 3R.