October 22, 2010 in Sports

Birch swings U-Hi to baseball title

First homer, six RBIs turn back CV Bears
Justin Chartrey The Spokesman-Review

After 17 games without a home run, University junior Jamie Birch made good on the old adage “practice makes perfect” by drilling a three-run homer in the fifth inning Thursday against Central Valley a day after doing the same in practice.

The home run came at the most opportune of times for the Titans (18-0), who turned a three-run lead into six and held on to beat CV (14-4) 8-5 Thursday in the Greater Spokane League slowpitch softball championship game at U-Hi.

“That was Jamie Birch’s first home run this year,” U-Hi manager Jon Schuh said. “We got to see a glimpse of it in practice. She hit the same exact ball in the same exact spot, so it was awesome to see.”

Birch finished the game 3 for 3 with six RBIs, the last three giving starting pitcher Sandra Cleveland a six-run cushion.

Cleveland, pitching with Breann Warren unavailable for the game, allowed just two base runners in the second through fifth innings, helping hold the Bears after they scored two runs in the first.

The Titans beat their rivals for the third time this season.

“I haven’t been playing much this season, but I clutched up at the end and made it count,” said Cleveland, who held CV to nine hits in seven innings.

Cleveland said Birch’s homer took the pressure off for the final two innings, allowing the defense to play relaxed as the Bears tried to mount a comeback.

Brittani Gilbert’s two-run double in the sixth cut the lead to four as CV looked to make a charge. But Alyssa Hall made a perfect throw to home plate to cut down Gilbert on the next at-bat before she could score CV’s fifth run.

The out allowed the Titans to finish the inning with the lead intact.

“Slowpitch is a funny game,” CV coach Joe Stanton said. “I was just kind of waiting for a big inning, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. But it’s hard to get a big inning going against a U-Hi team like that. It’s only the second team I’ve seen have a perfect season and Coach Schuh had those kids ready. … I never see them press.”

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