Blue Devils split with Richland

Matt Watson pitches the Blue Devils to a 3-0 victory in the nightcap Friday.

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Wa-Hi found Richland's heels when a quick scoop off a short bunt and a leaping dive by Blue Devils' pitcher Ryan James caught the trailing foot of Richland's Chris Cecil for the second out of the third inning during Friday's first game at Murr Field.

WALLA WALLA - Wa-Hi rode Matt Watson's pitching and a three-run third inning to a 3-0 victory here in the nightcap of a Cascade Division baseball doubleheader.

The win, coupled with Richland's 13-7 first-game victory, gave the Blue Devils a split with the defending 4A state champions.

"That's a nice split for us," Wa-Hi coach Keith Gradwohl said. "We haven't beaten Richland for a long time. That's a feel-good win."

A two-out, three-run Boone Myers' double staked the Bombers to a 3-0 lead after one in the opener. Wa-Hi tried, but never closed within two runs of the Bombers.

Morgan Maddess led off the home third with a double and scored on Aaron Flippo's opposite-field double. Jake Jimenez added a two-run single and Jake Campeau knocked in Jimenez, as Wa-Hi narrowed the gap to 8-5.

Watson's RBI double highlighted a Blue Devil two-run fifth that pulled Wa-Hi close at 9-7. Richland answered with doubles from Kent Brunson and Jarrod Turner, and a three-spot in the sixth to put this one out of reach.

Watson's triple and double and Flippo's two hits paced Wa-Hi.

Brunson's home run and double led the Bomber's 13-hit attack.

"Both of us hit the ball around the yard," Gradwohl said. "Our kids hit the ball (nine hits) too, and scored seven runs."

Watson gave up a two-out double to Brunson in the Bomber first of the second game, but put up a goose egg to start the Wa-Hi effort.

"He (Watson) came out pretty strong," Wa-Hi centerfielder Maddess said. "It's always good to stand him on the mound."

"I tried to stay confident and keep my composure," Watson said. "I wanted to have rhythm."

Watson blanked the Bombers on three hits through four innings, but Richland's Travis Fuller took a two-hit shutout to the home fourth.

Watson reached on a two-out Bomber error and the floodgates opened.

Jimenez singled, Conner Holbrook's grounder up the middle was misplayed, Brett Christina came off the bench and delivered an RBI single. Maddess capped the rally with a run-scoring chopper through the left side, and the Blue Devils had all Watson would need with a 3-0 lead.

"I'm glad we got some guys on base and scored," Maddess said. "It felt great to get it (his hit) through the six hole and it gave us some more scoring."

Watson sailed into the sixth before Corey Morris and Zach Rapacz ripped consecutive one-out singles. The Bombers brought the potential tying run to the plate in No.-3 hitter Brunson, with clean-up hitter Turner on deck.

"That guy (Brunson) is a really good hitter," Watson said. "Those middle of the order guys - I've got to keep those change ups down. That's what I threw him (Brunson) and I left it up a little bit. I was praying that it would stay in. It did and Flippo (Wa-Hi's left fielder) did a great job on it."

Turner flew out to Maddess in center to end the Bomber threat.

Chris Cecil flew to center to open the Bomber seventh. For Maddess, it marked his fifth put-out of the game.

"I got back a little bit after the first game, as they were hitting them pretty far," Maddess said. "It looked like they were having trouble catching up to his (Watson's) ball and they kept hitting it up the middle. I was ready to go every pitch."

Watson walked Myers in his only walk of the game, but got a ground ball from Hayden Hilty. Justin Mathews fed Kevin Toon for one out, but Hilty beat the throw to first. Wa-Hi first baseman Ryan James nailed Bomber pinch runner, Elijah Gardaya, who took too wide a turn at third, and the seven-hit shutout was complete.

"We mixed it up and changed speeds," Watson said. "I had great support. Players and coaches wanted me to get it done. It's been a long time since I pitched a seven-inning game. Today, my arm felt good."

Wa-Hi improves to 3-3 in division play.

"We're really proud of the kids," Gradwohl said. "We're still not catching any breaks, but Watson is money."

The Blue Devils may face a protest before traveling to West Valley Friday. The Bombers indicated that they may protest Wa-Hi's reentry process when James came back in the fifth inning.

First Game

Richland 305 103 1 - 13 13 1

Wa-Hi 014 020 0 - 7 9 2

Dunford, Briggs (5) and Turner; James, D. Christina (3) and Meyer.

HR - RHS: Brunson.

Hits - RHS: Morris 3, Myers, Brunson 2, Turner 3, Cecil 2, Hall, Rapacz; Wa-Hi: Watson 2, Flippo 2, Jimenez, Campeau, Maddess, Mathews, D. Christina.

Second Game

Richland 000 000 0 - 0 7 3

Wa-Hi 000 300 x - 3 6 1

Fuller and Turner; Watson and Holbrook.

HR- none.

Hits - RHS: Brunson, Myers, Dunford, Hilty 2, Morris, Rapacz; Wa-Hi: Mathews, Toon, Jimenez, B. Christina, Maddess, Watson.

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