It was sunny and bright Tuesday, but the Central Valley Bears were just, well, off.
Not by much, but they were off by enough to suffer just their second loss in Greater Spokane League play, 10-7 in 10 innings to Lewis and Clark.
“We know we need to bounce back and do well against LC on Thursday and then if we sweep Gonzaga Prep, we’ll be the No. 1 seed,” coach Mike Amend said. “We’re looking forward to playing Prep, but we sure aren’t looking past LC at all. This is a team that we’re probably going to face in the playoffs and we need to handle them – they’re a bunch of seniors who don’t want things to end.”
And CV is a young bunch with high aspirations and a passion for meeting them.
After Tuesday’s loss, CV (13-2) sits a game behind league-leading G-Prep and one game ahead of Mt. Spokane.
The loss is the first the Bears have taken since a March 24, 18-9 drubbing at the hands of the Wildcats.
“We took that loss and we gathered in front of our dugout and talked about what we needed to do,” Amend said. “I told them there was no way I would trade dugouts with Mt. Spokane. There have been years when the CV coaches would have gladly traded dugouts with them. But I told them we have the better team.
“And then we went out and beat them 13-0.”
That win started a run of 11 straight victories and a shot at the GSL title.
The Bears are planning to treat Tuesday’s loss as just a minor speed bump on the road to the post season.
Starting pitcher Conner Degeest struggled to find the strike zone in the first two innings and by the time he found his control in the third inning, but the Bears trailed 4-0.
In the top of the third, Degeest allowed a hard hit ball that was too hot for his third baseman to handle, then struck out the next three Tigers he faced.
In the bottom of the third CV scored five runs to take the lead, sparked by a two-run single by Cody Krull. Thomas Edwards ripped a run-scoring double in the fourth to make it a 6-4 lead.
And then the hits stopped finding gaps and started finding Tigers. CV hit into two double plays in the final three innings.
“We hit the ball hard,” Amend said. “We just hit it right at them. That ball they turned into that last double play was a very hard-hit ball.”
Amend said his young squad is learning how to win, but he balks at taking credit for the curriculum.
“I have very little to do with it,” he said. “These kids all have parents who have done a great job raising responsible young men.”
Amend pointed to his sophomore shortstop, Jace Edwards.
“He made two errors in our last game with University,” he explained. “So (Monday), after practice, he had his dad come out and hit him ground balls. I stuck around to watch and he was making him work.
“(Jace) just wanted to make sure he was right for this game (Tuesday).”
Amend said his pitching staff is lined up for the final three games of the regular season.
No. 2 starter Jeremy Yelland will start against Lewis and Clark at Hart Field.
“He tweaked his hip flexor on a play at first base, but he should be ready to go,” Amend said. “Connor Grytdal, our only senior pitcher, will start the first game against Gonzaga Prep and Conner Degeest will throw the season finale.”
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