LC, G-Prep make state
Tigers, Bullpups produce banner day for GSL
Long dominated on the mound by teams to the south, Spokane squads did their best to erase that history Saturday as Gonzaga Prep won twice and Lewis and Clark once to send both Greater Spokane League 4A schools to the state tournament’s round of 16.
After losing the district championship game last week to LC’s Tigers, G-Prep’s Bullpups had the long road. But they beat the Richland Bombers 9-5 in the first game Saturday and later trounced Walla Walla 13-4 after LC had earlier beaten the Blue Devils 4-1 to advance.
“It was a great day for Spokane, period,” Gonzaga Prep coach Brian Munhall said. “You will have to go deep in the record books (1992) to find where there wasn’t a Tri-Cities team not in the round of 16.”
In the first of three games at Hart Field, pitcher Justin Blatner kept Richland in check for five innings and left with a 6-0 lead. Relief pitcher Cael McKeirnan came in and struggled, giving up four runs in the top of the sixth inning.
But the Bullpups rallied for three runs in the bottom of the sixth and Steven Machtolf came on in relief to finish off the Bombers and advance to the 4 p.m. state-qualifying game.
In the 1 p.m. game, Lewis and Clark’s Ethan LaValley threw a complete-game gem and his teammates played loose as the Tigers beat Walla Walla.
“Ethan threw great,” Tigers coach Steve Bennett said. “He kept them off balance and pitched out of jams.”
Lewis and Clark got started early when Cal Webb’s grounder scored Anthony Coballes in the bottom of the first inning.
Cole Beemer then scored on Hunter Lee’s infield hit to give the Tigers all the runs they would need.
In the fourth inning, Coballes hit a grounder that scored the third run. The next batter, Beemer, grounded to the pitcher, who overthrew first base to allow another run to score.
“I think we know with the way we play, that we are going to have a chance to win,” Bennett said. “We are not finished yet.”
The Tigers, the region’s No. 1 seed, now heads to Yakima next Saturday to play in a pod of four teams.
Gonzaga Prep’s second victory of the day was led by the brothers Machtolf.
Despite throwing an inning in the first game, Munhall sent Steven Machtolf out to start the late game. He came through on the mound while his brother, Jack, used his bat to crush Walla Walla.
Jack, a sophomore, drove in G-Prep’s first run with a single that scored Rhett Larson. Steven, a senior, then put down a bunt and a throwing error allowed his younger brother to score. Mason Kuebler then hit a run-scoring double to give G-Prep a 3-0 lead.
Walla Walla tied the score at 3 in the bottom of the fourth with the aid of two Bullpups errors. But the tie only lasted until the Machtolfs could come up again.
After the Bullpups scored a run on an error, Jack Machtolf smashed a two-run homer to right over the 313-foot sign. Steven Machtolf then hit a ball that probably went further, but stayed inside and was caught near 369-foot mark in left center.
The game was halted in top of the sixth inning when Justin Blatner hit a line drive that struck the face of Walla Walla pitcher Zach Zehner. Emergency crews responded. He walked off on his own power but was transported as a precaution.
The ball hit more on his eyebrow than his temple, Munhall said.
“They said he was alert and talking,” he said. “It stops your heart and puts things in perspective.”
After play resumed, both Machtolfs had two-run hits, putting Gonzaga Prep up 12-3.
Munhall sent Connor Cherry in to relieve Steven and finish off the win.
Gonzaga, the No. 2 seed out of the region, now heads to four-team pod in Tacoma to play on Saturday.