Shadle Park rallied for three runs in its final at bat, but the Highlanders came up one run short in the 6-5 loss Friday to Mt. Spokane for the District 8 3A baseball championship.
The Wildcats (15-6) were able to avenge two losses last week to Shadle Park (12-9) for the chance to head to the Tri-Cities next week as the No. 1 seed.
“That’s a really big win for us after a couple tough losses,” Mt. Spokane coach Alex Schuerman told his team. “The bottom line is we can beat those teams if we play like we did today. Let’s go take it.”
The Highlanders earned a chance to play for the title after beating North Central 3-1 in the loser-out game earlier in the day at Whitworth’s Merkel Field.
Shadle Park got two doubles from senior Dalen Hainline in the early game. He smashed two more doubles in the late game against Mt. Spokane.
His final blast, which was also his sixth hit of the day, knocked in two runs to make it 6-5 in the top of the seventh inning to give his team a fighting chance with one out.
“He is ridiculous right now,” Schuerman said of Hainline. “We can’t get that kid out right now. He had four hits against us Monday. You’ve got to tip your hat to the guy.”
But Mt. Spokane relief pitcher Jacob Morgan struck out Kodee Riendeau and induced freshman catcher Dawson Dalton – who got two hits against North Central – to hit a sharp grounder to the second baseman to end the game.
Shadle Park had more hits (10) than Mt. Spokane (six), but the Wildcats scratched out three runs in the bottom of the second after starting pitcher Justin Macdonald hit a grounder that was mishandled.
That error allowed one runner to score. Hunter Prigge followed with a suicide squeeze that scored Kyle Lease. A passed ball allowed another runner to score to make it 3-0.
Hainline scored in the top of the fourth on an error by Mt. Spokane’s Gabe Martin to make it 3-1.
Mt. Spokane added two runs in the bottom of the fourth and another in the bottom of the sixth to make it 6-2 before Shadle’s comeback came up just short.
“I have to give it to Hainline,” said Mt. Spokane’s Macdonald, who pitched five innings. “He’s a great hitter. But (Jacob) Morgan has been great all year for us. I had a lot of faith in our defense and they came through.”
With the win, the Wildcats found a recipe to beat the Highlanders, who had won eight straight going into the championship game. Mt. Spokane plays the No. 1 MCC team at 4 p.m. on May 14 with the winner advancing to state.
“It took us a while early in the year to find out some kids,” Shadle Park coach Ron Brooks said. “We had to replace eight starters from last year. But we’ve been swinging it … and we’ve been pitching really well.”
Shadle plays the MCC No. 2 team at 1 p.m. in a loser-out game. The winner will meet second-game loser at 7 for the No. 2 seed to state.
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