Heading into the biggest Saturday of the year thus far in high school baseball, Gonzaga Prep will end up playing the same team with which it split a preseason series before the Bullpups started their slate of Greater Spokane League games.
And that series with Richland was by design, Gonzaga Prep coach Brian Munhall said.
“They are the team that perennially is a huge, huge power on this side of the mountains. They’ve hung a lot of banners out on their fence,” Munhall said of Richland. “That’s why we went down there in the preseason. We knew we were going to see them again. We need to believe we can beat them.”
But Gonzaga Prep is playing Richland a bit sooner than expected after Lewis and Clark upset the Bullpups 3-1 last Monday in an epic 12-inning battle.
The Bullpups play Richland at 10 a.m. Lewis and Clark takes on Walla Walla at 1 p.m. The loser of the second game then plays the winner of the 10 a.m. game at 4 p.m., all at Hart Field.
As a result of that big win, the Tigers have a somewhat easier road in that they can lose to Walla Walla and still have the chance to play for one of the two spots into the state playoffs.
“From what we can uncover, it looks like they have a stud sophomore pitcher who throws hard … Ryan Kimble,” LC coach Steve Bennett said. “They have some guys at the top of the order who hit the ball hard … some guys who come through for them.”
Bennett said he doesn’t expect his team will require a motivational speech to get them up for the game.
“The kids deserve the chance to be excited,” he said. “But at the same time, we do what we do and play how we play. You can’t beat excellent teams like Gonzaga if you don’t play hard and play together.”
Bennett said he will start pitcher Ethan LaValley against Walla Walla and then use Karver Pate if the Tigers are forced to play a second game.
Munhall said he expects to throw Justin Blatner against Richland, but has told both Steven Machtolf and Connor Cherry to be ready for anything.
3A teams head south
Just like G-Prep, Shadle Park drew a tough Kennewick team that comes into the tournament 20-1. But unlike the 4A teams, three of those playing will qualify for the state playoffs.
“We’ve played two times before and have had some really good games,” Shadle Park coach Ron Brooks said. “Traditionally, this is what they play for and are used to being there.”
Shadle Park plays at 10 a.m. at Kennewick. Mt. Spokane plays Hanford at 1 p.m. Saturday
The losers of those two games play at 7 p.m. Saturday with the winner qualifying for state. The winners of the first two games automatically qualify for state but they will play at 1 p.m. to determine the No. 1 seed.
“Hanford is really good,” Brooks said. “Of course, we know what Mt. Spokane can do.”
On Wednesday, the Wildcats beat Kamiakin 7-3 and the Highlanders outlasted Southridge 4-3 in 12 innings at Al K. Jackson Field.
“Our win over Southridge got us believing and got us motivated,” Brooks said. “It will be fun. It will be a good day.”
Great Northern League
The teams of the Great Northern League will also play a tournament Saturday at East Valley to determine which two teams qualify for regionals.
Colville will play West Valley at 10 a.m. for a chance to play the loser of the 1 p.m. game between league champion East Valley and Cheney.
The winner of the morning game and the loser of the 1 p.m. game then play at 4 p.m., again at East Valley, to determine the No. 2 seed for regionals.