An epic struggle Saturday for a berth in the State 4A baseball playoffs came down to a sophomore pitcher who his coach calls “Skinny.”
Gonzaga Prep sophomore Josh “Skinny” Grimes wasn’t the only hero on Saturday, but he was the one at the bottom of the dog pile of mitts, hats and players after the Bullpups pulled out an improbable 5-4 win over host Central Valley in 13 innings on Phillip Reynolds’ double that scored Ryan Gross.
“I didn’t think I’d get in,” said Grimes who pitched the final 3 1/3 innings and got the win. “I was just trying to get ahead of batters and stay alive. It was awesome.”
The Bullpups (18-6) finally got to the Bears (17-5) after Central Valley beat them three straight times to share the Greater Spokane League title and become district champions.
“That game was a game waiting for someone to take control. We just needed the one knock, the one hit,” Central Valley coach Mike Amend said. “That’s the longest game I’ve ever been in. It was a very good baseball game.”
G-Prep, which lost 2-1 Friday to Walla Walla, now travels to Wenatchee next weekend for the state playoffs.
“That was one of the best baseball games I’ve ever been a part of as a coach or a player,” Bullpups coach Brian Munhall said. “They could have won it eight times. I still have a lump in my throat. It’s a shame that someone good has to go home, especially after a game like this.”
G-Prep took its first lead in the top of the second inning after Carsten Schmidt doubled and later scored on a passed ball. After Central Valley tied it, the Bullpups added a second run on a Ryan Gross sacrifice fly in the top of the third inning.
The Bears finally got going in the bottom of the fifth when Jase Edwards got an infield hit that scored a pinch runner. Thomas Edwards then hit a two-out single to score Jase Edwards to make it 3-2 Bears.
That lead held until G-Prep’s Connor Coballes smacked a single up the middle in the top of the seventh off Bears starter Connor Grytdal to score Dylan McGinn and tie the game.
Blake Bonham then got an infield hit to score Coballes to give G-Prep a 4-3 lead. Amend pulled Grytdal and inserted Jeremy Yelland, who struck out Jack Machtolf to end the threat. The GSL’s best hitter was then ejected for something he said after the strikeout.
Down a run, CV’s Thomas Edwards got a two-out hit in the bottom of the seventh inning and Yelland knocked him home when his single bounced off the first-base bag. That made it 4-4 and the game went to extra innings.
Yelland ended up pitching 6 1/3 innings in relief and ended the eighth, ninth, 11th and 13th innings with four of his nine strikeouts.
But the Bullpups got through the bottom of the eighth when the Bears had runners at second and third with two outs, and the 11th when Braden Page hit a one-out triple.
Gross led off the 13th inning with a single. Reynolds then smashed a double to the gap in right-center to score Gross to lead 5-4.
Still, the Bullpups had to survive a single by Page in the bottom of the 13th. Thomas Edwards followed with a two-out single, but Kyle Lawson hit a deep fly that was caught in left field to finally end the game.
Grimes, who hadn’t pitched in weeks, got the win as his teammates mobbed him on the mound.
“I was just trying to throw strikes and let the defense back me up,” Grimes said. “Oh yeah, I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.”
Southridge 8, Shadle Park 0: Ryan Sanders pitched a four-hitter, striking out five and walking two, and Lane Hailey went 3 for 3 with two runs and two RBIs as the Suns eliminated the Highlanders (12-10) in Pasco.
Kennewick 5, Mt. Spokane 4; Southridge 10, Mt. Spokane 7: The Wildcats lost twice in Kennewick and were eliminated. Kyle Lease homered for Mt. Spokane in the second game.
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