After ripping the cover off the ball for five straight days, Richland’s Josh Rapacz had high expectations.
Not only did the third baseman meet them, he exceeded them.
Rapacz had hits in all four of his at-bats, driving in four runs and leading the Richland Knights to a 13-5 win over Lakeside Recovery in the Junior American Legion state tournament title game Tuesday at University High.
Richland is headed for the regional tournament in Alaska.
The defending state champion, Richland benefited from an aggressive offense during the six-day, double-elimination tournament.
Jamison Rowe got it started for the Knights in the bottom of second inning, hitting a fly to right field that turned into a three-run home run. The strong winds carried the ball out of the yard, knotting the score at 4 apiece.
“I saw the right fielder drifting back and I thought he was going to catch it, but then he turned around and watched it go over the fence,” Rowe said.
From there, Richland’s offense was in full swing.
Rapacz and Quinn Zorich hit back-to-back RBI singles in the fourth and Rapacz scored on Trent Sikes’ sacrifice fly to give the Knights an 8-5 lead.
Rapacz, who was named tournament Most Valuable Player after hitting .636 and driving in nine runs in six games, added an RBI double in the sixth and scored later in the inning off an error to make it 10-5.
Richland added three runs in the seventh to make it 13-5.
Knights starter Cody Shepard settled down after allowing five runs in the first three innings.
“I started focusing on hitting my spots and working my off-speed pitches,” said Shepard, who struck out nine batters after the third.
Richland won all six of its games at the tournament, including an 11-2 win over host University on Monday that eliminated the Titans (3-2).
Bandits advance to semis
Danny Jordan didn’t give up an earned run through seven innings and went 5 for 6 at the plate as the Spokane Bandits downed the Twin City Titans 8-3 in Yakima to advance to the State AAA semifinals. A team source said it’s believed to be the first time since 1969 that a Spokane team has advanced this far in the State AAA tournament.
Kyle Krustangel was 2 for 3 and two RBIs for the Bandits, who will play a 3 p.m. game today against the winner of Tuesday’s late game between Evergreen Athletics and Yakima Valley Pepsi Pak.
•Central Valley and University play in Mt. Vernon today with the winner facing North Thurston later in the day for the Junior A crown.