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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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University can’t solve Tides’ ace Henckel

Kenny Ocker Special to The Spokesman-Review

TACOMA – Knowing they would face Gig Harbor ace left-handed pitcher Matthew Henckel in the first round of the State 4A tournament, the University High baseball team spent the past week practicing against southpaws in the batting cage.

But the Titans could only muster two weak hits Saturday in a 3-0 loss to the Tides at Heidelberg Park.

“Seeing it in the cage is one thing,” U-Hi coach Tom Hoiland said. “Seeing it on the field is another.”

Henckel stifled the Titans, primarily with his fastball, getting five strikeouts and walking two in the seven-inning game while only letting three balls leave the infield.

“I got all fastballs. It just ran away from me,” said University starting pitcher Nathan Awbery, who walked in the second inning and popped up in the fifth. “It was hard to hit, but what do you do?”

Gig Harbor shortstop Colton Robinson led off the game with a single off Awbery, then scored on a two-out single by Tides catcher Jon Burghardt that bounced through the middle of the infield.

Awbery mixed his pitches well to hold Gig Harbor (24-11) hitless through the next three innings before a one-out double to right-center field by second baseman Cameron Macintosh in the fifth inning. A hard single to left field by Robinson moved Macintosh to third base, and left fielder RJ Green drove him in with another single to left.

“My cutter was working pretty well, my curveball was in the strike zone a lot, my changeup was off and on,” said Awberry, who gave up two runs on five hits and two walks in five innings, striking out two. “My fastball was pretty good on the outside and the inside corner.”

Green scored an insurance run in the seventh inning for Gig Harbor off reliever Taylor Eskridge, scoring on a hard-hit triple by center fielder Michael Toglia, a junior who has committed to play at Washington State.

The Titans (13-10) got their second hit of the game with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning when left fielder Bryce Williamson hit a ground ball that bounced off the glove of a diving Robinson and into left field. But the next batter, Eskridge, grounded out to Robinson to end the game and the Greater Spokane League team’s “incredible” season, as Hoiland described it.

“It’s a surprise to everybody else that picked us last in the GSL, but it’s not to us,” Hoiland said. “We knew that we could do this, so being picked last in the GSL was kind of a slap in the face. But we used that as momentum because we knew we could get here.”

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