Austin Sturgis has been a pitcher who University can hang its hat on. In a Greater Spokane League makeup baseball game on Monday at U-Hi, Sturgis was at his best.
Until a seventh-inning glitch, the Titans senior shut down Mt. Spokane on three hits for a 4-0 triumph that salvaged a split of their season series.
Sturgis struck out 11 Wildcats (8-2) and through 6 2/3 innings had faced just two batters over the minimum. Seven of his Ks came against the middle of the batting order.
“Getting ahead with my curveball was the key,” Sturgis said. “When you get ahead it messes up their timing.”
U-Hi and Mt. Spokane were to have played the makeup game on Saturday at Gonzaga Prep after the Wildcats’ makeup game with North Central on that field. But much to Mt. Spokane’s consternation, the Titans (6-4) opted not to play because of muddy field conditions.
Monday’s conditions were more baseball-like, dry and warm, which suited Sturgis. He struck out the first five batters he faced and twice stranded runners at third.
U-Hi drew first blood on No. 9 hitter Cole Sorensen’s double that scored Austin Stannard in the bottom of the third inning. It was the first of Sorensen’s two hits.
Senior Derek Walker crushed a triple to right center field driving in another run, and he scored on Conner Klein’s base hit in the fourth. Klein added icing with an RBI single an inning later.
“Walker’s triple opened the game up,” U-Hi coach Scott Sutherland said.
Meanwhile, Sturgis continued to breeze until two were out in the seventh. Then he hit two batters and issued a walk loading the bases.
“I was relaxed and didn’t want to get anxious and overthrow. That’s when I get wild,” Sturgis said. But late-game anxiety caused his arm to drop. He calmed back down and his final strikeout ended the threat.
The win was important because University is young. Sorensen and Stannard are among five sophomores and a freshman for the Titans, four of them regulars. It was their first victory against a team with a winning record.
Upcoming this week are two against GSL leader Gonzaga and another with Shadle Park, a 3A team which also is 6-4.
“Our next eight games are tough,” Sutherland said. “We’re so young and haven’t been on our field to practice yet. We just want to be playing well at the end of the season.”