One thing is for certain in an American Legion baseball tournament: By the sixth game of a weekend, most teams are scrambling for pitching.
Such was the case in Monday’s championship and third-place games of the Spokane AAA Wood Bat Classic at Al K. Jackson Field.
The title went to the El Segundo Blues of California, who parlayed a six-run fourth inning and a four-run sixth into a come-from-behind 11-10 victory over the Budd Bay Embroidery Bandits of Olympia.
The Blues used four pitchers, including starting shortstop Robi Estrada and starting leftfielder Mike Quinones, who earned the victory and also drove home a pair with two hits.
Those runs proved decisive as the Bandits, winners of the tournament’s Blue Division, scored three times off Quinones in the top of the seventh to get within one.
Estrada and Quinones weren’t the only position players to be successful on the mound Monday.
Cheney High infielder Trevin Hoffman pitched four innings of four-hit ball for the Spokane Blue Devils, who claimed third with a 4-0 win over the Northstars.
“He’ll get out there and throw it over the plate,” Blue Devil coach Steve Hertz said. “Sometimes guys who throw like him can really mess up a hitter’s timing.”
The Blue Devils, who finished second in the Red Division behind undefeated El Segundo, started the game with a regular member of their pitching staff, Lakeside’s Jordan Moore, the MVP of the Great Northern League.
“We had him on a 45-pitch limit,” said Hertz, whose team has league games and another tournament this week. “He threw 44 and gave us three great innings.”
No-hit innings, actually, with six strikeouts.
Meanwhile Shadle Park’s Darin Holcomb gave the Blue Devils the lead.
The Gonzaga University-bound infielder — he played shortstop Monday but by his own admission is more comfortable at the corners — doubled in the first off Mead’s Chris England, another position player (outfielder) turned pitcher.
In the third, after England had walked the first three hitters, Holcomb greeted reliever Eric Kelly with a bouncing double down the third-base line. It scored Nate Smith and Alec Webber — and showed Holcomb at his best.
“He is the best high school hitter I’ve seen,” Hertz said, “when it comes to just knowing how to hit. He’s not 6-4, but he’s big enough. He’s just a special hitter who always has a tremendous approach.”
Holcomb’s approach against Kelly went something like this, in his words: “I hadn’t faced him before so I decided to take the first pitch (strike). It was a fastball that allowed me to get my timing.
“The next pitch (ball) was a curve ball in the dirt, so I figured I would get another fastball.” He did and “sat on it.” The sharp, high-hopper was just fair down the third-base line.
Jake Gamble, who stopped at third on Holcomb’s double, raced home on a wild pitch before Holcomb scored the final Blue Devils run on a Luke Kitzen infield single.
Behind by four, the Northstars didn’t get their first hit — a single by Zach Servatius — until there were two out in the sixth.
Hoffman was able to pitch around that and Jake Brussard’s ensuing single. He stranded two more in the seventh, leaving Ryan Wood at third and Adam Walker at second to end the game.
Spokane Athletic Supply-Central Valley scored three runs in the first then held on for a 4-2 win over Coeur d’Alene in the championship game of the Fourth of July Tournament at Central Valley.
Neither team swung the bats particularly well, Coeur d’Alene managing three hits and Central Valley just two, but CV committed four errors and Coeur d’Alene three.
CdA scored once in the second to pull within 3-1, but CV scored again in the bottom of the fourth to push the lead back up to three. Coeur d’Alene scored once more in the sixth to round out the scoring.
In the third-place game, Kimmel-University scored eight times in the first three innings, then cruised to a 9-3 victory over Black Hills.
U-Hi scored once in the first, five times in the second and two more in the third. Black Hills could only answer with two in the second and one in the third to trail 8-3 after three.