YAKIMA – The Lind-Ritzville Broncos came to the State B baseball tournament certain of one thing.
They knew how to beat DeSales.
Sure, their two victories this school year – in the football state title game and in a state tournament basketball elimination game – weren’t on the baseball field where the Irish have been all but untouchable.
But, the Broncos reasoned, they too had been in pressure games and they were as good a candidate as any to end the Irish streak of five titles in a row and 12 out of the last 13.
Lind-Ritzville came back from a huge first-inning deficit and challenged the Walla Walla powerhouse late before bowing 10-7 in Friday’s first semifinal game at County Stadium. Wahkiakum toppled Northport 22-9 in the other semifinal.
The Broncos, unlike most of the B teams DeSales has mowed down in running up a 61-5 record in 20 state tournaments, didn’t collapse when they got behind. Rather, they chipped away at the 8-1 deficit they faced after one inning and closed to within three runs on Nick Ashley’s one-out double in the bottom of the seventh.
But DeSales pitcher Mike Tompkins recorded two strikeouts to end it.
“That’s kinda been our M.O. all year,” said L-R coach Jason Aldrich. “Today, our luck kinda ran out.”
For Lind-Ritzville, the loss ends hopes of a state title after the most successful baseball season for the two schools since Ritzville lost to Darrington in the 1981 title game. The Broncos will play in the consolation game against Northport at 4 p.m. today.
DeSales will face Wahkiakum in today’s 10 a.m. title game.
In the first, the Broncos gave up eight runs on just three hits. Two errors, three walks and a hit batsman contributed mightily, but the big blow was a three-run home run by Tompkins that soared over the 375-foot sign in right-center.
Lind-Ritzville came back with one run in the third, two in the fifth and three in the seventh, but after Ashley’s double, hopes of an extended rally ended quickly.
“I always wondered if how good we were was over inflated by the media,” Aldrich said of his 22-3 squad. “But we rattled off 17 wins in a row and that’s a tribute to our kids. We played pretty consistently all year.”
Wahkiakum 22, Northport 9
The Mustangs – in their third semifinal in school history – were swamped by the Mules.
Wahkiakum opened a 20-0 lead in the first four innings – assisted by seven Northport errors – and cruised into the title game after three semifinal losses since 2001.
Northport scored nine runs in the sixth inning against Keith Anderson, the second of three Mules pitchers. But the uprising never got to the point that Wahkiakum was in jeopardy.
Devin Day had two hits for Northport (19-4).