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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Bilesky rescues wild-armed Kranches, Shadle Park squelches late Mead rally

J.D. Larson Correspondent

Brian Kranches does a pretty good Harry Houdini impersonation.

The Shadle Park junior wriggled out of several jams against Mead in a Greater Spokane League loser-out playoff game at Avista Stadium, and Aaron Bilesky cleaned up his last mess to preserve a 3-2 win.

“It’s been that way all year,” Shadle head coach Ron Brooks said. “We’ve hung in there and this time we win it.”

They won despite the wildness of Kranches, who walked seven while only allowing three Panther hits.

“I just sort of kept jamming them,” Kranches said. “Being wild did help. I didn’t even know where it was going sometimes.”

Shadle had pitchers warming up in the first four innings, but Brooks stuck with his wild-armed starter.

Mead had a great opportunity in the seventh but couldn’t capitalize.

Kranches gave up a lead-off double to Chris England and then walked opposing pitcher Kevin Schneider, bringing on Bilesky.

The Highlander closer struck out Jeff Walker, who was attempting to sacrifice the runners over, but Andy Blevins reached on an error to load the bases with one out.

Bilesky induced a sacrifice fly by Dan Ramsay to close the gap to one and then retired Ryan Gilbreth on a tapper in front of the plate to shut down the Panthers.

“He’s had that role, and he likes those situations,” Brooks said of Bilesky, his stopper. “He’s just crafty enough to get through one or two innings.”

Shadle (13-8) jumped out to an early lead on Alex Scarpelli’s RBI double in the third, a ball that was a foot from leaving the yard. Mead (12-8) matched them in the bottom of the frame on Ramsay’s RBI single.

The Highlanders took the lead for good in the fifth on a Scarpelli sacrifice fly, and added an important insurance run the next inning with Shawn Powell’s RBI single.

The Panthers were playing without their workhorse, Chad Flett, who suffered a 90 percent tear of his posterior cruciate ligament on Saturday against Mt. Spokane.

Flett was 7-4 with a 2.25 ERA, striking out 64 batters. He also led Mead at the plate, driving in a team-high 21 runs.

But Schneider, a sophomore, stepped into the void, and did an admirable job, limiting Shadle to three runs on six hits.

“We had a sophomore (Schneider) who flat-out stepped up,” Mead head coach Kevin Workman said. “He had a lot of pressure on him today.”

He would have had a win with one or two clutch hits from his teammates, who went 0 for 5 on the day with runners in scoring position and two outs.

“They made their plays, and that’s baseball,” Workman said. “Some days you hit it, and some days you don’t.”

In the nightcap, North Central knocked out Ferris 6-2 behind seven solid innings from senior Matt Oye.

Oye, who moved to 8-0 on the year with the win, gave up four hits and struck out four. He also struggled with wildness, walking six.

“He’s developing and becoming a much better pitcher,” said NC head coach Scott Harmon. “That means he can throw offspeed pitches when he’s behind in the count, he can pitch out of jams, and he can stay with it and compete and still beat people even though he’s in a hairy situation.”

The Indians (14-7), winners of 10 of their last 12 games, were all over the Saxons (13-8) early, rolling a pair of 3’s in the second and third innings.

In the second, designated hitter Nate Farr smoked a double to left-center off Ferris starter Chris Bozo, scoring Logan Davenport from first to get NC on the board. One batter later, second baseman Greg Stanifer drove in Farr with a single to center. Stanifer scored without the aid of a hit, putting the Indians ahead 3-0 when he raced home on a Bozo wild pitch.

The following inning, Davenport hammered a triple into right-center, scoring Sean Carnhan and Oye. Farr drove in Davenport on a sacrifice fly to score NC’s final run.

“The philosophy we’re trying to take with us is good starting pitching and timely hitting,” Harmon said. “We’ve been preaching that message all week long. You don’t have to make extraordinary plays on defense or hit homers, just solid at bats and solid defense.”

Fourth-seeded NC will play Friday at 5 p.m. at Avista Stadium against second-seeded Mt. Spokane (14-6). In the second game, starting at 8, the top seed, East Valley (17-3), will take on sixth-seeded Shadle Park.

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