Gonzaga Prep couldn’t have had a worse day running the base paths at Whitworth’s Merkel Field.
Two runners were caught stealing. Two base-running gaffes cost the Bullpups at least a couple of runs.
And yet they are 4A district champions following a seventh-inning, walk-off single by senior pinch-hitter Gabe Renouard that defeated Ferris 3-2 on Monday afternoon.
It sends Prep (20-1) to Richland on Saturday for a game against Walla Walla (7-14) in sub-regional play. Today at Whitworth, the Saxons meet Mead (both 13-8) at 4 p.m. for the second sub-regional spot in the state’s round-about-way of filling a state tournament field.
Renouard’s masterpiece came with one out and the bases loaded. Jordan Rathbone had singled, was sacrificed to second and took third on a wild pitch.
Saxons coach Jim Sharkey intentionally walked the bases loaded, leaving Gonzaga coach Brian Munhall with a decision to make.
Should he pull relief pitcher Wyatt Mills and re-enter starter Justin Blatner for his bat or stay with Mills and bring in a pinch-hitter?
“Renouard’s kind of been a bench guy, but he’s a fly-ball guy,” Munhall said of his hunch. “If we got into a fly-ball sacrifice situation it was the way I was going to go and he rewarded us again.”
Bullpups runners were thrown out stealing in the first and third innings and both times circumstances resulted in multiple runners thereafter. Brendan McClary slugged a two-run double in the second, but Anthony Gosline’s RBI single was nullified on appeal when McClary missed third base. Indecision also cost him a chance to score from third in the sixth inning.
Ferris scored in the third following Nathan Butchkoski’s scorching double down the third base line and tied the game in the fourth when Aaron Beaulaurier doubled and was driven home by Austin McGoldrick.
It remained tied into the seventh, leading to a bench-warmer’s heroics.
“Coming in it was tough being put on the spot right away,” Renouard said. “It’s kind of been my role the last half of the year in game situations. I’m glad coach had faith in me.”
He was “shaking a little bit,” he said, but comforted knowing there was only one out. He hit a fast ball away to the opposite field for the game winner.
Ferris was sterling defensively with catcher Alex Jondal’s throw-outs, two clutch catches in the outfield and relief pitcher Tanner Parker somehow snagging Rathbone’s liner up the middle
“Things didn’t go our way today,” Munhill said. “But we ended up getting a big one when we needed to.”
Mead 10, Lewis and Clark 0: Matt Nelson hit a first-inning, three-run home run – his sixth of the year – and ended the game in the fifth with a walk-off single.
Zach Kies and Cole Arthur added two RBIs apiece for the Panthers to support Ryan Olson’s one-hit pitching.
First round action begins today among four teams each from the Mid-Columbia Conference and GSL
Mt. Spokane (14-6) hosts Kamiakin (11-10), which lost most of its state title team except pitching standout David Marshall. University (10-8) hosts Hanford (11-9), which has league hitting leader Isaac Benard (.541 with 9 home runs), son of former San Francisco Giant Marvin Benard.
Shadle Park (10-10) travels to steady Southridge(14-6) and Rogers (3-15) to pitching rich MCC champion Kennewick which was 13-1 in league and is 17-3 overall.
Idaho 5A Region I
Coeur d’Alene 20, Post Falls 2 (5): Levi Pereira and Kolby DeHaas hit back-to-back home runs in a 10-run fourth inning as the Vikings routed the Trojans. Alec Barrowcliff drove in five runs for CdA.
Lewiston 10, Lake City 0 (5): Jake Munoz had a three-run double in his first varsity game as the Bengals pounded the visiting Timberwolves.
Lewiston plays at Coeur d’Alene today at 4 p.m. for a state berth while Post Falls is at Lake City in a loser-out game.