The Greater Spokane League baseball season finally opened Monday and it was a case of too much Nick Sagendorf and judicious use of small ball that propelled Mead past Ferris in a makeup game pitting title aspirant against defending champ.
Sagendorf, a 6-foot-5, 212-pound pitcher who seemed to get stronger as the game progressed, struck out nine and scattered four hits in six innings of the Panthers’ 9-2 triumph.
He was his own worst enemy during the Saxons’ two-run fourth when a strikeout pitch in the dirt put a runner on. He then hit two batters before Blake Bozett’s single plated both Saxons runs.
“The weather was definitely a factor,” Sagendorf said as one reason why he struggled early on a day when the temperature barely touched 40 degrees. “It’s (also) the first game of the season, you’re jacked up and want to hump the ball up there. But I settled down.”
Leading 1-0 in the second inning, coach Jason Reich decided to put pressure on Ferris.
“The guys can bunt,” he said. “If they believe in themselves we’re going to keep doing it.”
Leadoff hitter Skyler Lookabill was a game-long protagonist in Mead’s offense and in the middle of the small-ball strategy that began at the bottom of the order. The Panthers scored three times to take a comfortable 4-0 lead.
After the Saxons scored their two runs in the fourth, Lookabill, who had doubled earlier, also blunted the comeback with a two-run single in the fifth.
“I was a little eager and swung at a high pitch, then settled down and found a pitch I liked,” Lookabill said of his back-breaking hit. “I like to bunt and like to hit it. But I’d rather hit than bunt.”
Sagendorf found the corners with a wicked breaking pitch to go with his fastball and Ferris had no chance.
“That’s been Nick’s m.o. his entire career. He’s a tough kid,” Reich said.
He added that Lookabill’s single was key. “We needed to step up and get a big knock. Skyler did it.”
In another GSL game between title hopefuls, Mt. Spokane’s Kelly Fitzpatrick and Garrett Hoffnagle pitched and hit, beating Gonzaga Prep 1-0. The pair allowed one hit to outduel David Machtolf, who gave up but five and the lone run in the sixth inning.