WALLA WALLA - The Inland Cellular Black Sox ran into perhaps their stiffest competition of the season over the weekend at Ray Lane Field on the DeSales High School campus.
The Black Sox, a 14-and-under youth baseball team, saw their season record slip to 32-9 by posting a 3-2 record in their own tourney, good enough for a second-place finish in the six-team field.
Walla Walla opened play Friday with a 7-5 victory over West Valley, scoring three times in the sixth inning and twice in the seventh to pull out the win. Also on Friday, the Black Sox defeated Moses Lake 8-4 behind a balanced 12-hit offensive attack in which four Walla Walla players contributed two hits each and four others picked up one hit.
Come Saturday, however, it was a different story as first the Spokane Dodgers nicked the Black Sox 8-7 after Walla Walla had erased a 6-0 deficit and took a 7-6 lead into the bottom of the seventh, and then the Idaho Storm of Boise outslugged the host team 17-10.
And finally, the Walla Wallans on Sunday secured a winning tournament record and the second-place trophy based on run differential by defeating the Kennewick Vipers 11-0.
"We knew it was going to be a challenging weekend, considering the caliber of teams joining us here in Walla Walla," Black Sox coach Mike Postlewait said. "We were a little shorthanded with some injuries and arm issues, but the guys battled all weekend.
"After the tough loss to the Dodgers and the slugfest with Idaho on Saturday, the guys could have given up. But to their credit, they came out Sunday against Tri-Cities and smacked the ball around the yard."
After starting pitcher Salomon Arellano yielded a pair of runs in the fifth inning and reliever Adam Mathews was touched for two more in the sixth, Spencer Locati came out of the bullpen to pitch a scoreless seventh inning and nail the victory over West Valley in Friday's tournament opener.
Locati was also a factor on offense as he socked a home run, one of two Black Sox homers in the game and the first of three for Locati in the tournament. Ali Buentello hit the other Walla Walla home run and Mathews paced the Black Sox's 10-hit offensive with three singles, two runs batted in and one run scored.
Mathews, Locati, Adam Eskil and Nate Ortiz cracked two hits apiece as the Black Sox built an 8-0 lead through five innings in their victory over Moses Lake's Crawdads. Mathews, Eskil and David Pontarolo were credited with doubles, Joe Duehn socked a triple and Eric Klicker finished with a pair of RBIs.
Klicker pitched five scoreless innings before being touched for four runs, three of them earned, in the Moses Lake sixth. Duehn pitched a scoreless seventh to seal the victory.
In the loss to Spokane, the Black Sox scored six times in the fifth inning, highlighted by Locati's three-run homer, to tie the game at 6-6, then took the lead in the sixth on an RBI single by Mathews. But Mathews, the third Walla Walla pitcher, got himself into a two-on, no-out jam in the bottom of the seventh and Locati couldn't save him as he yielded two hits and issued a pair of walks without registering an out in the Dodgers' winning two-run rally.
Mathews was asked to take the mound again against Idaho's hard-hitting Storm and was pounded for 16 hits and 14 earned runs through the first five innings. Duehn relieved in the sixth and was tagged for another three runs.
Walla Walla's offense produced 10 runs on 14 hits. Klicker led the way with two singles and a double and three RBIs. Buentello, Mathews, Pontarolo and Ruben Avalos added two hits each, with Buentello scoring three times and Locati knocking in a pair of runs.
Buentello pitched a five-inning, complete-game two-hitter against Kennewick's Vipers, and Locati stroked his third homer of the tournament and 12th of the season. Locati finished the game with three hits and four RBIs, and Duehn added two hits and three runs scored.
The Black Sox wrap up their season this weekend in tournament play in Moses Lake.
Black Sox 7, West Valley 5
Walla Walla 1-1 003 2-7 10 0
West Valley 100 022 0-5 7 0
Arellano, Mathews (6), Locati (7) and Ortiz; Ross, Enquist (5), Hinton (7) and Johnston.
HR - WW, Buentello, Locati.
Hits - WW: Buentello, Duehn 3, Locati, Mathews 3, Klicker, Eskil; West Valley: Larson 2, Vanderbreak, Peters, Ross 2, Suarez.
Black Sox 8, Moses Lake 4
Moses Lake 000 004 0-4 3 0
Walla Walla 203 210 x-8 12 1
Tunstal, Fox (4), Sutherland (5) and Williams, Sage (4); Klicker, Duehn (7) and Ortiz.
Hits - ML: Musier, Sage, Lacelle; WW: Duehn, Locati 2, Mathews 2, Klicker, Galloway, Oritz 2, Eskil 2, Pontarolo.
Spokane 8, Black Sox 7
Walla Walla 000 061 0-7 10 0
Spokane 200 400 2-8 10 0
Duehn, Ortiz (5), Mathews (6), Spencer (7) and Oritz, Duehn (5), Ortiz (6); Douglas, Hammond (5) and Jondal.
HR - WW, Locati, Avalos.
Hits - WW: Buentello, Duehn 2, Locati, Mathews, Klicker, Galloway, Ortiz, Avalos, Pontarolo; Spokane: Ulrick 4, Larson, Douglas, Rasmussen, Jondat, Phelon, Hammond.
Idaho 17, Black Sox 10
Walla Walla 100 036 0-10 14 1
Idaho 201 806 x-17 20 1
Mathews, Duehn (6) and Ortiz; Bowman and Fine.
Hits - WW: Buentello 2, Duehn, Locati, Mathews 2, Klicker 3, Ortiz, Avalos 2, Pontarolo 2; Idaho: Fine 4, Drake 4, Thompson 2, Bowman 4, Lee 4, Anderson, Mills 2, Landon.
Black Sox 11, Kennewick 0
Kennewick 000 00-0 2 1
Walla Walla 006 14-11 10 0
Buentello and Odrtiz; Ddriver, Marshall (3), Sordahl (3) and Guajardo.
HR - WW, Locati.
Hits - Kennewick: Wilbert, March; WW: Buentello, Duehn 2, Locati 3, Galloway, Eskil, Arellano, Pontarolo.