Region IV-AA baseball
First-year Cheney baseball coach Randy Elam has been there before, winning the State AA tournament as coach of Centralia in 1993.
His Blackhawks are breaking new ground after beating Selah 8-1 and Eastmont 7-4 to advance to next week’s finals in Tacoma.
Eastmont reached the title game with a 4-0 shutout victory over Frontier League district champion West Valley.
In nine previous regional appearances, Cheney’s players had never won a game. Pitchers Tucker Urdahl and Matt Caston changed that.
Urdahl shut down Selah in the opener. Caston, was perfect for five innings in the victory over Eastmont.
“They are extremely different,” said Blackhawks pitching coach Bob Strampe. “Tucker is an overpowering guy. Matt is a classic pitcher who throws to spots, makes them hit his pitch and lets the defense get outs.”
The pitchers received plenty of support from timely hitting and able defense.
Centerfielder Pat Stiffler had four catches in the title game, including two spectacular, diving grabs.
Third baseman Bryan Miller’s two-run homer in the first inning of the first game set the tone offensively for the day. He went 3 for 4, walking four times, twice intentionally, and drove in four runs.
Urdahl was 4 for 7 with two triples and a double and scored four runs. P.J. Barthelmes had four RBIs.
Four-year varsity players Urdahl and Miller had witnessed three previous failures. They also played on a national championship Babe Ruth team. Now they are experiencing Cheney’s finest baseball moment.
“This is better,” said Urdahl. “These are all guys we’ve played with ever since we were little kids. It’s the best feeling.”
Cheney 7, Eastmont 4
Caston threw fewer than 40 pitches in retiring the first 15 players he faced before an error in the sixth inning ended his perfect game.
Eastmont made things dicey with a seventh-inning rally that Miller ended with a strikeout.
A costly Eastmont error led to five Cheney runs in a first-inning outburst that included doubles by Urdahl and Barthelmes. Urdahl scored in the fifth following an error, and tripled and scored in the seventh.
Cheney 500 010 1 - 7 9 3
Eastmont 000 001 3 - 4 5 3
Caston, Miller (7) and Barthelmes; Lienemann, Lutz (5) and Gans. W-Caston. L-Lienemann.
HITS: Cheney-Stiffler, Urdahl 3, Miller, Fiddes, Barthelmes, Webber 2. Eastmont-Gans, Mayr, Lutz, Bigby 2. 2B-Mayr, Stiffler, Urdahl. 3B-Urdahl, Barthelmes.
Cheney 8, Selah 1
Although second-seeded from the Frontier League, Cheney took it to the Mid-Valley champion.
“We went in with the mentality if we were to do anything, we had to beat both teams,” said Elam. “What’s the difference, you always face a good pitcher.”
Urdahl struck out 11 and allowed just three hits.
Miller smacked a hanging curve well over the left-field fence and No. 9 hitter Matt Conrath added a solo shot to the same place in the next inning. Conrath scored three times in three at-bats.
Barthelmes had another two-run hit in the fifth. Urdahl’s two-run triple followed by Miller’s double completed scoring in the sixth.
Selah 000 100 0 - 1 4 2
Cheney 210 023 x - 8 9 0
Hull and Martin; Urdahl and Barthelmes. W-Urdahl. L-Hull.
HITS: Selah-Hull, Martin, Herring, Krauss. Cheney-Stiffler Urdahl, Miller 2, Barthelmes 2, Caston, Conrath 2. 2B-Hull, Miller. 3B-Martin, Urdahl. HR-Miller, Conrath.
Eastmont 4, West Valley 0
Four times the Eagles had runners at third base, but couldn’t score them. “The thing that got us through the season (hitting), failed us,” said coach Ray Riggin. “We gave up seven or eight runs a game all year long and won.”
Eastmont’s University of Washington-bound pitching ace Jake Gann scattered four hits. Eastmont’s first two hitters, Donnie Summers and Nathan Flemens, each had two hits in the first two innings and accounted for three runs.
WV’s season ended. Cheney’s has only begun.
Eastmont 102 100 0 - 4 8 2
WV 000 000 0 - 0 4 1
Gann and Mayr; Hall and Brian Lawler. W-Gann. L-Hall (8-2).
HITS: Eastmont-Summers 2, Flemens 2, Gann, Mayr 2, Brownlee. WV-Macarty, Howe 2, Phillipe. 2B-Summers.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
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