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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Titans fend off Bullpups in baseball to stay in GSL hunt

University High scored early Tuesday and the Titan pitchers made the early lead hold up for a 5-3 Greater Spokane League victory over perennial power Gonzaga Prep.

U-Hi pitcher Taylor Eskridge didn’t overpower batters, but he kept the ball in play and his defense played well behind him on an absolutely gorgeous afternoon for baseball.

“Anytime we can beat G-Prep, I’m happy,” U-Hi coach Tom Hoiland said. “They are good every year. Muny (Brian Munhall) is a good coach and he prepares them well. If you beat them, that means you are doing something right.”

Eskridge pitched 5 1/3 innings to get the win. Relief pitcher Nathan Awbery came on with one out in the top of the sixth inning and immediately hit G-Prep’s Carsten Schmidt to put the tying run on base. But Awbery got Connor Coballes to hit into a double play to end Gonzaga Prep’s last real threat.

“They outplayed us today,” Munhall said of the Titans. “If your pitcher (Connor Cherry) doesn’t have his best stuff, and you don’t play good defense and you don’t swing the bats really well that about does it.”

The Titans (9-6 GSL) got things going in the bottom of the first inning when Garrett Schmerer led off with a single. A sacrifice bunt, a passed ball, a walk and a throwing error by Cherry allowed Schmerer to score and Mitchell Rhodes to advance to third.

One batter later, Cherry was called for a balk and Rhodes scored.

Gonzaga Prep got on the board in the top of the second when Ryan Gross scored on a groundout by Coballes.

The Titans immediately responded in the bottom of the second inning when Griffin McDonald singled and later scored when a pickoff attempt went awry. Rhodes then doubled to score Bryan Braley and Brian Hill to make it a 5-1 U-Hi lead.

Gonzaga Prep (10-5 GSL) added one run in the top of the fourth and another in the top of the sixth, but the Titan defense kept the Bullpups from doing any more damage.

“That was good for our team,” U-Hi senior catcher Jared Smith said. “We are starting to roll now.”

Hoiland couldn’t be happier about how his team is playing in a very competitive league.

“It sure makes it fun,” Hoiland said. “For us to be in the thick of it and have a chance is very exciting.”

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