Region IV-AAA baseball
Mead’s last great chance arose in the sixth inning Saturday when Kennewick coach Dean Hoff summoned a right-hander from the bullpen.
Matt Lihosit, replacing left-handed starter Kevin Jamison, went to work on Mead’s Grant Reeves, a lefty power hitter.
Reeves, fresh from setting a Greater Spokane League record with 46 runs batted in, stepped in with the bases loaded, one out and the Panthers trailing by five runs.
Lihosit coaxed a grounder to second base that Jason Barnett converted into a 4-6-3 double play. The game at Posse Stadium ended with Kennewick ahead 9-4, giving the Lions (24-1) the Region IV-AAA baseball title and a Final Four berth when state opens Friday at Yakima.
“I would have bet money that we’d get something out of that sixth,” said coach Dave Vaughn of Mead (18-5). “But then, if not for Reeves, we never would have made it this far.”
Hoff defended his unorthodox move of bringing in a righty to face a cleanup-hitting lefty. He said Reeves (2 for 3 against Jamison) had looked too strong against his control-oriented ace. Lihosit, more of a power pitcher, worked the outside corner against Reeves and made him pull a tough pitch.
Reeves threw the tough pitches in Mead’s regional opener, a 4-2 win over Richland. Reeves (4-1) hurled a five-hitter and struck out three. Kennewick opened with a 6-0 win over University, as Matt Massingale (9-1) pitched a two-hitter.
In the title game, Jamison extended Kennewick’s scoreless string for the day to nine innings before Reeves and Brandon Muzatko hit sacrifice flies in the third to give Mead a 2-2 tie. An error by third baseman Tyrel Davis set up the rally.
Davis atoned by starting the Lions’ four-run third with an infield single. Jack Mitchell followed with a bad-hop single that struck second baseman Adam Strate in the face, then Greg Brooks scored Davis with a well-placed bunt single down the soggy third-base line.
The day’s action had begun an hour late because of a sprinkler system leak near third base.
Kennewick had four bunt singles in the game. Three turned into runs.
“I knew all about (Kennewick’s tendency to bunt), but they just executed it very well,” Vaughn said.
Mead’s Jason Kostelecky had an RBI single in the fourth, but Davis had an RBI triple and scored as Kennewick added three runs during a fourth-inning outburst that chased starter Rob Elmer (8-2).
Mead catcher Sam Hess went 2 for 4 and was involved in the day’s most controversial play. Hess, blocking the plate as Ryan Marquardt steamed home in the third, couldn’t snare Kostelecky’s throw from center. Hess pushed at Marquardt to keep him from touching the plate, but Marquardt was called for malicious contact and ejected.
Kennewick 9, Mead 4
Mead 002 110 0 - 4 9 3
Kennewick 204 300 x - 9 13 4
Elmer, Donahoe (4), Johnston (6) and Hess; Jamison, Lihosit (6) and Mitchell. W-Jamison (9-0). L-Elmer (8-2). HITS: Mead-Winterer, Strate 2, Hess 2, Reeves 2, Chimienti, Kostelecky. Kennewick-Mackay 3, Barnett 2, Davis 2, Mitchell, Brooks, Overturf, Marquardt, Pratt 2. 2B-Kostelecky, Winterer, Overturf, Marquardt, Mackay. 3B-Davis.
Mead 4, Richland 2
Kostelecky’s two-run double to left-center highlighted a three-run second, and shortstop Elmer started a 6-4-3 double play with the bases loaded in the seventh to preserve the win.
Richland loaded the bases when Reeves walked the first two batters, Steve Huffaker had an RBI single and Steve Mortimer reached on a fielder’s choice. Jared Mitchell popped to second before Derek Gloyn’s hard grounder led to the double play.
“I don’t know how we’re not going to score three or four runs in that situation,” said Richland coach Ben Jacobs. “With the meat of the order coming up, the last thing I was thinking about was the double play.”
Mead’s Joe Chimienti added an RBI single in the second, when shortstop Josh Jelmberg of the Bombers (17-5) committed an error that led to three unearned runs. Hess completed Mead’s scoring with an RBI double to right in the fifth.
Richland 001 000 1 - 2 5 1
Mead 030 010 x - 4 9 0
Dunham and Huffaker; Reeves and Hess. W-Reeves (4-1). L-Dunham.
HITS: Richland-Mitchell, Chacon, Dunham, Huffaker 2. Mead-Winterer, Strate, Hess, Muzatko 2, Elmer, Chimienti 2, Kostelecky. 2B-Huffaker, Kostelecky, Hess.
Kennewick 6, University 0
Kennewick’s Jack Mitchell went 3 for 4, and he and D.J. Overturf drove in two runs apiece to eliminate the Titans (13-12).
U-Hi starter Chris McMurtrey walked the first two batters of the game, both of whom scored, and toiled through a 31-pitch inning. McMurtrey, covering first on a fourth-inning grounder, failed to touch the bag, leading to three runs.
Massingale limited U-Hi to Andy Dunham’s check-swing single in the third and Kyle Sale’s solid single in the fifth. Massingale struck out four and walked none.
“(Massingale) kept the ball down all day,” said Titans coach Don Ressa. “We never could get anything going on offense.
University 000 000 0 - 0 2 1
Kennewick 201 300 x - 6 7 1
McMurtrey, Conant (4), Valkenaar (6) and Haiar; Massingale and Mitchell. W-Massingale (9-1). L-McMurtrey. HITS: University-Sale, Dunham. Kennewick-Barnett, Davis, Mitchell 3, Brooks, Overturf.