At the outset it seemed innocent enough; a routine two-out ground ball to second base. But make a mistake against a Bullpup on the prowl and you’re liable to get bit.
That was the case Tuesday afternoon at Mead when the resulting error led to four fourth-inning Gonzaga Prep runs breaking a 3-3 tie. The Greater Spokane League baseball leaders piled it on for a 15-7 triumph over the Panthers, who had entered the game tied for second place.
“I don’t know how many innings we scored in, but we scored in all seven against Mt. Spokane,” coach Brian Munhall said of last week’s 20-5 series evener.
For the record, Gonzaga (12-1) scored in 13 of the 14 innings against the two Mead district high schools, rolled up 35 runs on 31 hits that rendered its 2-0 loss to the Wildcats earlier last week seemingly an aberration.
“We didn’t take too kindly to it,” Munhall said. “The last two games have been exceptionally good. That’s as good as you’re going to see.”
Leading the charge was GSL batting leader Jordan Rathbone, just a sophomore. Coming into the game Prep’s cleanup hitter was hitting .518 and didn’t hurt his stats by going 4 for 6 against Mead (9-4), all of them singles, and driving in five runs.
His first RBI hit followed the error and a walk in that fateful fourth after Mead had tied the score with three runs in the bottom of the third inning.
An error and hit batter preceded Danny Mattingly’s two-run double, one of two two-base missiles he launched to right field for the Panthers early in the game.
Rathbone added two-run hits in the next two innings when the Bullpups (12-1) added five more runs. All told, the Bullpups had 15 hits.
“We just have a great approach,” Rathbone said of his outburst. “Coaches tell us to see the ball deep and get a pitch we can hit. I was looking for a fastball in the zone and it worked out good today.”
Rathbone, Munhall said, is, for a young player, well grounded.
“He just knows what he’s looking for at the plate and he’s stubborn enough to make sure that he gets.”
Nine players hit safely in the game for the Bullpups, including catcher Zach Bonneau who was 3 for 5 with a triple.
But Munhall wasn’t entirely pleased saying that they need to shore things up defensively behind a talented pitching staff.
“You can’t always count on your offense to bail you out,” he said.
Speaking of defense, despite the spanking, Mead turned in two spectacular gems. Third baseman Darian Barlow covered so much ground to his left, he somehow gloved a low, softly hit ball in front of shortstop Josh Tower.
A play later, Tower, sprinting with his back to the infield, made an over-the-shoulder catch of a bloop in shallow center field.
But the team didn’t have an answer for Gonzaga Prep’s offense and Mead dropped three games behind in the GSL race. Mt. Spokane (10-3), a victor over Ferris (9-4) in another key GSL game, trails Gonzaga by two games.