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Saturday, December 7, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Bill Pierce’s almanac: Gonzaga High baseball wins it all in 1945

In 1945, Bill Frazier’s Gonzaga baseball team won the Spokane City League. Even though it was the only team to finish with a winning record, the wins weren’t easy to come by as indicated by the last two games of the season.  Against Lewis and Clark, the Tigers tied the score in the bottom of the 7th, sending the game into extra innings. According to newspaper accounts, fisticuffs broke out in the crowd of onlookers during the rally. Gonzaga pushed a run across in the 10th to win 6-5.

In the final league game, Rogers and Gonzaga went into the bottom of the seventh tied at 2. Mike Scarpelli, with the bases loaded, hit his second home run of the year to give the Bullpups a 6-2 win. That made Scarpelli the league leader in homers as he had two of the only four hit that season.

In late May, right after the regular season ended, an invitational tournament was held in Walla Walla. Along with the host school, Gonzaga, Bellingham and South Kitsap were invited to participate to crown an “unofficial” state champion.

South Kitsap was the Bullpup’s first opponent. Led by their all-star catcher, Jud Heathcote, the Wolves had accumulated a 40-1 record over three years and were heavy favorites to win it all.

The two teams battled for 15 innings, until Scarpelli’s fourth hit of the game sent Tom Butler across with the winning run to take the victory 7-6. Twice, the Wolves had taken a 2-run lead in the extra innings, only to have Gonzaga rally to tie the score each time. Butler, with Jim Presley catching, pitched the entire 15 innings for the Bullpups.

Two days later, Gonzaga and Bellingham met for the championship. It was all Bullpups, as Bill McGee scattered seven hits and pitched an 8-0 shutout to give Gonzaga the win.

It may not have been official, but Gonzaga had earned bragging rights, along with a shiny new trophy, to show they were the 1945 state baseball champions.

The first sanctioned WIAA high school state baseball tournament wasn’t held until 1973. 




Bill Pierce
Bill Pierce is a sports blogger who writes the weekly nwprepsnow prep sports almanac.





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