I suppose there are two ways to look at things when it comes to state qualifying baseball playoffs. You figure as the league champion you’re number two pitcher should be good enough to beat the No. 5 seeded upstart. Or you can play it safe, go with your ace and then let the chips fall where they may down the road.
University chose the former and it backfired in a 9-1 loss to Lewis and Clark, which right now is the hottest brand going. Jimmy Reed and Benny Baird are pitching as well as anyone and combined for 13 scoreless innings for two district playoff victories before U-Hi scored a harmless run in the final inning Wednesday night. The Tigers run the bases with abandon 1-through-9 and used that speed to good advantage. And everyone hit.
CV chose the latter, got a brilliant six innings from J.T. Beach and beat Mead 6-2.
LC plays CV for a regional berth and the district championship Friday, 7 p.m. at Avista Stadium. The Tigers would have to go back to 2002 for the last time they were this close and maybe even two decades that they last had this many wins. Who’da thunk it.
The Titans will pitch ace Billy Moon against Mead in loser out on Friday, both hoping to survive, then let the devil take the hindmost with available pitching on Saturday against either the Bears or Tigers.
Here’s my story for tomorrow’s S-R:
The hottest pitchers and hottest team continued smoking on the first day of District 8 4A baseball and left the Greater Spokane League’s top two playoff seeds on the outside looking in.
In Wednesday’s opener at Avista Stadium, Central Valley left hander
League champ University took a chance that backfired in the nightcap and upstart Lewis and Clark took advantage winning for the 11th time in 12 games, 9-1, to join CV in Friday’s 7 p.m. championship final, also at Avista.
The top-seeded Titans and second-seed Panthers meet in the 4 p.m. opener. One’s season will end, the other needs two wins to maintain a chance at state.
That was more than enough for Beach (3-0), who didn’t pitch this season until April 17 because of a back injury. Making his fourth start, Beach allowed just three base runners through five innings and six overall during a one-hit, nine-strikeout stint.
“Beach was phenomenal,” said coach Barry Poffenroth. “He’s a gamer.”
Mixing fastball with a sharply breaking pitch, he kept the Panthers off-balance until running out of gas in his final inning. Both Poffenroth and Beach, however, said his curve ball wasn’t what it can be.
“He was not throwing it for strikes early,” said Poffenroth. “We should have kept calling it, hoping it would come around. When he gets it over for a strike, he’s tough.”
Beach said that much of his effort was spent relying on and locating the fastball, although he did use the bender effectively at times as a set up pitch and, as it turned out, he was plenty tough enough.
As for Borgman, besides the two-run double, his infield single with the bases loaded in the third plated Fano Pau, who had doubled, with CV’s third run.
“I needed to get it done with two outs,” Borgman said. “My first at bat (when he struck out) I was kind of guessing. After that I settled down and waited for the fast ball.”
Berg also had two hits and
The Panthers scored their runs in the seventh off a Jake Schrader triple, Kyle Courtney double, Andy Larson single and sacrifice fly.
Win puts CV just one away from a return to regional
“You’ve got to win two games before you lose two, that’s what I told (the players),” said Poffenroth. “This is a start.”
Lewis and Clark 9, University 1: Facing the district’s No. 5 seed, the Titans (18-3) opted to save pitching ace Billy Moon for Friday and the Tigers (14-8) made them pay.
Capitalizing on shaky U-Hi defense and dormant offense, it was LC that played like the favorite.
On the heels of Jimmy Reed’s shutout victory in the first district playoff, Tiger Benny Baird blanked the Titans through six innings of this one, also putting the Tigers a win away from regional.
“As we talked earlier about the two-headed (pitching) monster, we got a great performance out of Benny Baird tonight,” said coach Dexter Davis. “He pitched his way out of a couple jams. And it was just a great overall team performance in terms of timely hits.”
Baird did a great job of mixing up pitches and locations and in the first four innings struck out four batters looking, three times with runners in scoring position.
Garrick Little walked and scored on an error in the first. A two-out double by Sage Poland and second Titan error led to two more unearned runs in the third. Josh Martin had an RBI single.
In the fifth inning, LC put five successive runners on base, including a two-run single by Donnie Santos, and tacked on four more runs. The final two scores came in the seventh.
The Tigers finished with 13 hits off two University pitchers and ran the bases extremely well consistently taking extra bases, including home plate.
“Obviously you want to peak at the right time,” said
The Titans meanwhile proved an exercise in futility. They loaded the bases with no outs in the second inning and couldn’t score and had runners in scoring position the next two innings with two outs, but watched called third strikes. Their only run came in the bottom of the final inning.
And they compounded it by committing five errors.
“This was a big win,” said