WENATCHEE - The first goal of Wa-Hi's 2011 baseball season was to win the Columbia Basin Big Nine 4A regular season championship.
Check that one off.
Wa-Hi dropped a 17-15 wind-driven decision to Wenatchee here in Friday's opener, but responded behind Jake Campeau's 17 strikeout, five-hit shutout and a three-run bomb from Matt Watson to down the Panthers 8-0 in the nightcap.
The split gives Wa-Hi a final league record of 11-1 - and their first league loss of the year - and sole possession of the league title as Richland finishes in second at 10-2.
"Our goal was to earn a split and get sole possession of the league title," Wa-Hi coach Keith Gradwohl said. "We (the coaches) had to do some psychology between games as the kids were super-disappointed with the first-game loss. It (winning the league) is a big deal as it goes back to Jason Grove's junior year (1995 or 1996) since we won a title."
Wa-Hi, with the wind at the hitters back, got home runs from Watson, Jake Campeau and Tyler Stevenson in the opener, and after a four-run sixth, took a 14-4 lead.
The Panthers, aided by the wind and Blue Devil misplays, plated 10 runs to tie the game at 14-14, and with the go-ahead run on, Will Parnicky came on in relief of Wa-Hi starter Watson. Parnicky got a strikeout and a ground out to keep it tied heading to the seventh.
"Watson deserved much better with the wind blown balls and misplays," Gradwohl said. "Whatever could go wrong, did. Parnicky was clutch to get out of it with the go-ahead run on."
Wa-Hi bounced back as Kevin Toon doubled, Watson followed with a single and Michael Lesmeister singled home Toon with the go-ahead run, and the Blue Devils went to the home seventh with a 15-14 lead.
Parnicky gave up a lead-off Panther hit, Wa-Hi made an error, Parnicky got two outs to hold the lead. C.J. Gettman doused Wa-Hi's bid for an undefeated league season with a three-run walk off blast as Wenatchee took the opener 17-15.
Stevenson led the Wa-Hi offense with three hits and five RBIs. Jake Jimenez, Watson and Campeau chipped in three hits each as Wa-Hi pounded out 18 hits in the losing effort.
The Blue Devils were not to be denied their league title as Campeau took charge of the nightcap.
The right hander surpassed Drew Christina's 16 strikeout performance earlier in the season with his 17 Ks. He worked out of a no-out, two-on first-inning jam by striking out the side. Campeau struck out the side in order in the third, fifth and seventh.
"It was one of the most dominant pitching performances I've ever witnessed," Gradwohl said. "Campeau threw 88 pitches and 72 of those were strikes. He had an unbelievable slider. He was amazing."
Watson, with Wa-Hi clinging to a 1-0 lead, sewed this one up as he drove a 3-0 pitch over the centerfield fence for a three-run home run in the Wa-Hi fourth to stretch the Blue Devil lead to 4-0 and the championship celebration was on.
Watson, Michael Pontarolo and Conner Holbrook each chipped in two hits to lead the offense to the title-clinching win.
Wa-Hi will host the district tournament starting Tuesday at Murr Field. Moses Lake plays Chiawana at 1 p.m. at Murr in a loser-out game, The winner plays Wa-Hi at 4 p.m.
Richland host the other half of the district on Tuesday. Davis plays Wenatchee at 1 p.m. in a loser-out battle with the winner playing Richland at 4 p.m.
The District finals then move to Murr Field on Saturday for a triple header with the district championship game slated for 11 a.m. Saturday morning.
Wa-Hi 080 114 1 - 15 18 4
Wenatchee 100 12(10) 3 - 17 14 0
Watson, Parnicky (6) and Holbrook, Furstenberg (6); Silva, Mooney (2), Grubb (3), Gettman (6) and Holmberg.
HR - Wa-Hi: Watson, Campeau, Stevenson; Wen: Gettman, Woodard.
Hits - Wa-Hi: Jimenez 3, Toon, Watson 3, Campeau 3, Lesmeister, Pontarolo 2, Stevenson 3, Holbrook 2; Wen: Woodard 3, Adamek, Holmberg, Gettman 3, Parkhill, Jeager, Johnston.
Wa-Hi 013 400 0 - 8 8 0
Wenatchee 000 000 0 - 0 5 5
Campeau and Holbrook; Sugg, Doerr (5), Adamek (6), Driver (7) and Holmberg.
HR - Wa-Hi: Watson.
Hits - Wa-Hi: Jimenez, Watson 2, Campeau, Pontarolo 2, Holbrook 2; Wen: Woodard, Adamek, Holmberg, Gettman 2.