YAKIMA – Down 2-0 and being no-hit going into the bottom of the seventh inning, Newport head coach Rusty Hargrove was trying to figure out how his team would get a hit, let alone score.
His players were in shock, trying to understand how their season could end one game short of the State 1A championship game.
All of which makes the way they rallied to win that much more improbable.
Zack Green singled through a drawn-in infield, scoring two runs to give the Grizzlies (25-0) a 3-2 win over Kalama at Yakima County Stadium and earn them a spot in today’s championship against Brewster (23-0-2), which beat University Prep 4-0.
Heading into the seventh, Newport had no hits and been struck out 11 times by Chinooks starter Spencer Gwynne.
Grizzlies catcher Chance Hargrove led off with a weak groundball to second, and by hustling, forced Kalama’s Aaron Linder to rush his throw, pulling the first baseman off the bag.
Josh Tiede followed with a four-pitch walk, and Gwynne hit Bryce Green with his next pitch, setting the stage for the first of Friday’s heroes.
Ajay Miltner, who also pitched three flawless innings of relief to keep Newport close, squared to bunt as Hargrove sprinted down the third-base line.
Miltner got the bunt down, Hargrove scored, but nobody from Kalama covered first and Miltner was safe, keeping the bases loaded with nobody out.
“We were playing small ball, and we’ve played that a lot this year,” Rusty Hargrove said. “We don’t usually do just safety bunts, only squeezes.”
Green followed by fouling off two squeeze attempts, forcing him to take a cut on 0-2 against Gwynne with the Kalama infield in to cut off the run.
Green bounced the next pitch up the middle, scoring Tiede and Bryce Green as the center fielder’s throw came way off line.
“I’ve never been good at bunting,” Green said. “Gwynne had a pretty good fastball, a good curveball and a sinker. I don’t know how we did it. It’s just clutch.”
“I figured he’d hit a groundball, I told him if he hit it on the ground, it would get through there,” Rusty Hargrove said. “They played the defense in, and it worked.”
Newport started its ace, junior lefty Nick Collison, but Kalama (18-6) picked up a run in the first off a sacrifice fly, and then Hargrove gambled, pulling Collison while the Grizzlies were down 1-0 to save him for today.
“That’s the first bad day he’s had all year,” Hargrove said of Collison, who allowed four hits in three innings. “We’ve got to fix him up somehow. That’s what we’ve always done, throw Nick for three and then bring him back in the second game.”
Miltner shut down Kalama, allowing one hit in three innings while getting groundball outs.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.