In baseball, one swing can overshadow three previously poor plate appearances.
Just ask Mead senior Levi Axworthy.
Axworthy, who bats second in the Panthers’ tough lineup, had struck out three times when he came to bat in the sixth inning Thursday with the potential winning run on second base. He lined a triple down the right-field line and picked up the win in relief when he put the visiting Ferris Saxons down in order in the seventh to preserve a come-from-behind 5-4 win in Greater Spokane League action.
“I had a hat trick at the plate and Coach just told me that it was my time to get a hit,” Axworthy said. “I got a pitch outside and I took it the other way and it fell.”
The victory snapped a two-game losing streak for the Panthers, who improved to 7-3 and stayed within two games of leaders Central Valley and Mt. Spokane.
“Being 7-3 is a world of difference from 6-4,” Mead coach Jason Reich said. “And if you have a three-game losing streak, it starts getting in your craw. Ferris is a good team. We knew that. Tuesday was a battle (a 10-9 loss to Ferris). We competed well and stayed in the game long enough.”
Mead opened a 3-0 lead in the second. Ryan Roberts had a run-scoring single and Paul Miller stroked a two-run double.
Ferris (6-6) evened things up at 3-3 in the third on a two-run single from Keller Ewing and an infield RBI single from Ben Goodwin.
The Saxons edged ahead 4-3 in the sixth on Ryan Krustangel’s RBI single.
Mead bounced back in the bottom half when Miller knocked in the tying run with a single before Axworthy’s heroics.
Roberts reached on a fielder’s choice and headed to second base on an overthrow. Ewing, the Saxons’ first baseman, retrieved the ball and fired a bullet to second baseman Blake Bozett, who had plenty of time before Roberts arrived. But the field umpire ruled that Roberts avoided the tag.
That prompted Ferris coach Jim Sharkey to protest mildly. The umpire asked Sharkey if he was done talking as he left the field and Sharkey said he was done.
Seconds later, Miller singled and Sharkey pointed to the umpire but didn’t say anything. The umpire tossed Sharkey from the game.
It’s the first time in 10 years as a head baseball coach (two at Ferris) that he’s been ejected.
“I’ve never been tossed from a game. It really caught me off guard,” said Sharkey, who must sit out today’s game against Central Valley.
Sharkey said he was glad Mead won the game at the plate and not on an umpire’s questionable call.
“They (the Panthers) got some clutch hits,” Sharkey said. “We’re getting better.”
The GSL’s top hitter, Mead senior catcher Jake Schrader, went 1 for 3 as his average slipped to .656 (21 for 32).
“Jake Schrader wasn’t a big part of the game,” Reich said. “We’re starting to show we can win without him as well.”
Central Valley 13, Shadle Park 3: The visiting Bears (11-1) scored 12 runs in the final two innings to top the Highlanders (3-9).
David Borgman went 3 for 4 and scored three runs for CV and teammate Dane Berg had three RBIs. Stefano Pau knocked in three with a double.
Gonzaga Prep 4, East Valley 3: Bullpups pitcher David Machtolf, winless in four previous decisions, broke through against the visiting Knights (2-6).
Machtolf allowed five hits, struck out seven and walked two.
Machtolf and David Nelson each had RBI hits in the fourth. G-Prep improved to 2-8.
EV’s Aaron Awbery went 3 for 4.
Lewis and Clark 13, Rogers 1: Josh Martin went 2 for 3 with three RBIs and three runs as the Tigers (8-4) stopped the visiting Pirates (1-8) in five innings at Hart Field.
LC’s Dean Neilson pitched a complete game, striking out five and scattering five hits.
Sage Poland had two RBIs and two runs for LC, which scored in each inning of the run-rule shortened game.
Mt. Spokane 14, North Central 5: Matt Benner went 3 for 4 with two home runs, six RBIs and two runs to lead the Wildcats (10-1) past the Indians (2-8) at NC.
The Wildcats’ Nate Blackham collected four hits and four runs. Mt. Spokane pitcher Kelly Fitzpatrick had eight strikeouts.