Shadle Park’s Al K. Jackson Field, Whitworth College, Gonzaga University and Seafirst Stadium will be busy this weekend.
They are locations for AAA baseball games during Spokane’s annual American Legion 4th of July tournament that begins this morning and concludes on Sunday.
The tournament is the biggest weekend of baseball for the Spokane League.
A total of 24 teams, 12 each in AAA and AA divisions, will play in games that begin at 8 a.m. today and end with Sunday’s 2 p.m. championships. Each team will play five games in a two-division round-robin format.
One AAA division includes the North Side’s Spokane Blue Devils plus the Spokane Royals, Valley Cannons, Northco Angels from Vancouver, Wash., Billings Royals and Coeur d’Alene Lumbermen.
The other division includes the Spokane North Stars from the North Side, plus the Browne Mountain Bandits from Spokane, Great Falls Stallions, Vancouver Royals, Prairie Cardinals from Post Falls and El Segundo, Calif.
Division winners play for the title at Seafirst Stadium.
Seven Spokane League AA teams will be joined by three Bellevue teams, the Yakima Valley Peppers, and Enumclaw.
The round-robin portion of the tournament will be at Central Valley High School with the championship game at Al K. Jackson Field.
Included is a division with the Deer Park Eagles, plus Spokane Olympic Sports, Spokane Athletic Supply, Bellevue Legion, Bellevue Blue Sox and Yakima.
The other division includes North Side teams B&C; Telephone and Granny’s Buffet, plus Strike Zone, Spokane Federal Credit Union, Bellevue Honda and Enumclaw.
Friday at 8:30 a.m. at both Central Valley and Shadle Park, the Legion will host a fund-raising breakfast.
Blue Devils still cruising
A doubleheader sweep last week by the Blue Devils over the North Stars kept them apace with the Browne Mountain Bandits atop Spokane’s AAA Legion league.
The Blue Devils had 29 hits during the two games including five by Brian Coe and three each from several players. Coe, Jeff Lafferty, Ryan Corigliano and George Petticrew all homered.
In non-league games the Blue Devils lost two one-run contests in Trail, B.C., and split with Coeur d’Alene.
Hess-Wheeler second in tourney
Come-from-behind heroics helped American Legion AA team Hess/Wheeler from Mead finish second in the Toppenish Pow Wow baseball tournament last week.
The team rallied for two runs in the seventh inning to beat eventual champion Yakima 5-4 in its first game.
Following a 7-0 win over Puyallup, the team beat Auburn 4-3 with a four-run last inning.
“Nothing was going right and this was it,” said coach Dave Vaughn.
Three free passes preceded Dan Stucky’s two-run double and game winning two-run single by Kyle Ellenz.
In the title game, despite outhitting Yakima 16-10, Hess/Wheeler lost 10-6. Ryan Pugh and Stucky each had three hits.
“We played some pretty good competition and I was pleased,” said Vaughn, despite the winner-take-all title game format.
Ken Hibbard, who drove in the goahead run in the opener, also fanned two in the bottom of the seventh in relief to secure victory.
In Hess/Wheeler’s shutout victory, Dan Thigpen pitched an 11 strikeout one-hitter. Pugh went 4-for-4 and Mitch Calkins 3-for-3.
Pugh, who batted leadoff after Keith Stamps left for a football kicker’s camp, was 8-for-11 during the tourney.
“He said he’d never led off before,” said Vaughn. “But he was quick enough and after the game said, ‘I kinda like this.”’
Hess/Wheeler entered the week 7-2 in the Spokane AA League with a particularly important game Wednesday night against B&C; Telephone.
The two teams are part of a three-way battle for first place in the North Division.
Last week Hess/Wheeler beat Downtown Toyota 9-8 in the completion of a suspended game and blanked Riverside 5-2 on the one-hit pitching of Stamps and Stucky.
B&C; also shut out Riverside on one hit.
Both teams got help from Deer Park which handed the Panorama Twins their second loss. Despite a loss last Thursday to last-place Strike Zone, Eagle Hardware/Pepsi remains in the thick of the AA South League.
The Shadle team has a 9-2 record in second place in the conference.
Top three make the end-of-season playoffs for a state berth.
Tony Roma, Shadle’s A team, remains undefeated and has a two-game lead over Ferris with six games to play.
Deer Park Eagles lead the North Division of the league.
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