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Prep baseball: Pitching at premium in GSL race

Even with the straight red card available in soccer, baseball remains the foremost sport where a player’s day can end early if something objectionable is heard by the umpire.

It happened last week to Ferris pitcher Tanner Parker in the first inning of the Greater Spokane League game between Ferris and Lewis and Clark.

On April 1, Ferris beat LC 8-2. But sparks flew in the second game a couple of days later when an LC runner was called safe at third base. Ferris Coach Jim Sharkey said the runner appeared to be out by a large margin and he let the umpire know about it.

With the disputed runner on third base, Parker threw a pitch to the next LC hitter who knocked a single to score the run.

What was said next remains in dispute.

“Tanner said, ‘That’s on me,’ ” Sharkey said. “But the umpire changed it to say, ‘That’s on you.’ It was mass confusion. He said your pitcher has been ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct.”

Parker had only thrown about eight pitches and Sharkey then lost an important bat. Parker had already gotten a hit that game. After the ejection, Sharkey then had to rely on other pitchers in what turned out to be a 12-0 win for Lewis and Clark.

What’s more, the ejection made Parker unavailable for the next game, a 6-2 loss to Central Valley.

“He’s our shortstop and second-best hitter,” Sharkey said of Parker.

“He’s one of the better players in the league, so it’s tough to play without him.”

But Sharkey wouldn’t blame the ejection for either loss.

“If (Parker) had cussed or had made a real big scene on the field, yeah,” Sharkey said. “But it was kind of a controversial ejection. Only two people know what was really said … and they definitely didn’t match.”

Despite the two-game losing streak, Ferris (7-3, 6-2 GSL) rebounded with a win over Central Valley last week and remains tied for second place with Mt. Spokane and Shadle Park behind Gonzaga Prep (9-1, 8-0 GSL).

Shadle Park started undefeated until they faced Mt. Spokane’s Drew Rasmussen. The Highlanders then fell back into the tie for second in the league following a 3-2 loss to Mead.

“That tells me that Mead is getting better. Every game seems tight,” Sharkey said. “Even Prep is winning a lot of close games.”

Other than top-echelon pitchers Rasmussen, who has committed to play for Oregon State, and Gonzaga Prep’s Justin Blatner, few teams have a luxury of more than a couple of good pitchers.

“It’s a really balanced league,” Sharkey said. “There is not a lot of depth on the mound for each team. So, if you get a good pitching performance, you’re good.”

LC’s Karver Pate threw a no-hitter against Mead on March 21, but then lost April 1 to Ferris. Despite the loss, Lewis and Clark (6-4, 5-3 GSL) remains only one game back from the logjam for second place.

“From the bottom to the top of the league, you have to play at the top of your game,” Sharkey said.

Jake of all trades

After Jake Straughan helped lead Colton to its first state title in basketball, baseball coach Pat Doumit had a quandary.

Doumit’s top three pitchers all were starters on the championship hoops team. The baseball team started 0-4 as the pitchers worked to get their pitch counts up.

“The Lake Roosevelt game (April 4) was the first one where we could cut Jake loose and let him go,” Doumit said.

Straughan, who has committed to play basketball at Idaho, then strikes out 14 batters as he throws a perfect game.

“We’ve been seeing (Straughan) do it for four years,” Doumit said.

The three-sport star worked his way into the Colton pitching staff as a freshman and ended up getting two wins in relief in the state playoffs.

“He’s a great athlete but when you combine that with his level of competitiveness, it’s something,” Doumit said. “He wants to be as elite as he can in whatever he does.”

Straughan said he didn’t think about the perfect game until the scoreless and hitless innings started piling up.

“The best feeling was that it was over,” Straughan said, “because I was getting so nervous. It was an unbelievable experience.”

But he picked the school’s first state championship in basketball as the better moment.

The perfect game “was awesome,” he said. “But a state championship in my last high school basketball game was pretty special.”

In addition to Straughan, Doumit has Jordan Druffel and 6-foot-7 Dalton Patchen throwing for Colton, which has improved its record to 3-5.

Asked if Patchen reminds him of the former Seattle Mariners Pitcher Randy Johnson, Doumit said not exactly.

“He’s like the Big Unit if the Big Unit was right-handed and liked to throw breaking balls.”


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