WALLA WALLA - It was win or go home in Little League District Five baseball tournament action here Tuesday.
Asotin County kept its state hopes alive in 11-12 All-Star play. Asotin exploded for 13 hits and ended Touchet Valley's tourney run with a 17-2 win.
Walla Walla Pacific forced a game three in the 10-11 All-Star battle for a state trip to Cheney. Pacific evened the series with Walla Walla Valley with a 16-11 win.
In the game of the night, the Asotin County 9-10 All-Stars got a two-run, two-out home run from Jace Gwinn in the bottom of the fifth to pull out a dramatic, come from behind 12-11 win and end WW Valley's tournament.
Asotin County will look to force a Thursday game against Walla Walla Pacific when the two 11-12 All-Star squads square off at 6 p.m. today at the Valley complex. Asotin must win both Wednesday and Thursday to capture the state ticket to Vancouver.
The Asotin County 9-10 All-Stars are in the same boat as their older brothers. Asotin plays Walla Walla Pacific in the 9-10 match today at 3 p.m. Pacific only needs one win, today or Thursday, to earn a trip to the 9-10 state tourney.
The 11-12 All-Star state berth waits until Thursday at 3 p.m., when Pacific and Valley square off in the rubber match of their best-of-three series.
Asotin County 17, Touchet Valley 2
After dropping its opening round game to Walla Walla Pacific 6-1, Asotin has been on fire offensively.
Asotin eliminated WW Valley 12-0 behind a 10-hit attack, and continued the torrid hitting against Touchet Valley, pounding out 13 hits and scoring 17 times.
"After facing Isaiah (Standard) and Pacific in the first game, we've had to work a little harder," Asotin County manager Geoff Magnuson said. "We did (work harder), and we've done a good job of staying back and driving the ball. Hopefully, we can do that (today against Pacific)."
Asotin waisted no time Tuesday afternoon. AC sent 12 hitters to the plate in the first inning, got an RBI single from Cade Gingerich and run-producing doubles from Jared Hill and Scott Slaybaugh, scoring seven runs on six hits to take a commanding 7-0 lead.
Touchet Valley got its only two hits of the game in the home first. Kyle Gradwohl ripped one up the middle that was knocked down but Gradwohl beat the play at first.
Tanner Bren bounced out, but Gradwohl moved to second. Jacob Dunn knocked Gradwohl home with a base hit and TV narrowed the gap to 7-1 after one.
TV pitcher Ezekial Gonzalez stopped the AC power attack momentarily by blanking Asotin in the second.
Doubles from Taylor Lane, Slaybaugh and Chris Mingo led to a nine-run AC third.
TV fought for one last run in the home third. Tyler Fedderson walked but was erased on Ben Kleck's fielder's choice. Kleck took advantage of three errant AC pitches to scoot all the way around and score TV's second run.
Asotin used its pitching effectively to save everyone for today, and TV couldn't get anything going offensively. Blake Callahan, Hill and Mingo combined to limit TV to only two runs and two hits.
"We tried to keep our pitching down," Magnuson said. "When you score runs like that its much easier to manage your pitching. We have everybody available (for Pacific), so hopefully, we'll battle them."
Touchet Valley goes home with a third-place finish after a run that included a 9-0 win over WW Valley, and coming within three outs of an upset of Pacific in a closer-than-the-score-indicates 12-5 loss.
And TV's competitive spirit was noted by Asotin.
"District didn't have the same competition as we have this year," Magnuson said in comparing Asotin's 2010 11-year old district crown to the 2011 tournament. "We're not very big, but we try to use every aspect of the game to win."
WW Pacific 16, WW Valley 11
After dropping a 6-4 decision to Valley to open the best of three 10-11 All-Star playoffs, Pacific endured a battle that saw both teams combine for 27 runs, 23 hits, and nine errors, and WWP forced a game three by persevering to pull out a 16-11 win.
"It seemed like it was never-ending," WWP manager Stacy Bergevin said. "I had confidence that we (WWP) would get it done. We were hitting the ball well and hitting well with guys in scoring position where we weren't doing that the other day (the 6-4 loss to Valley)."
Ben Ortiz blasted a two-run home run to cap WWP's three-run first, but WWV came right back.
Parker Likes' two-run single narrowed the WWP lead to 3-2 after one.
Singles by Jake Kohler and Cody Worden and a WWP error got the tying run home for WWV in the second.
Levi Haen's single, two walks and a hit batsman, plus Devon Oliver's runscoring ground out, produced three WWP third-inning runs as Pacific took a 6-3 lead.
Both teams tacked on a run in the fourth, but WW Pacific exploded for four runs in the top of the fifth.
Kobe Morris led off the WWP fifth with a single. Josh Bergevin's bunt got one run in. Connor Hoeft's RBI double capped the four-run uprising and Pacific took command with an 11-4 lead.
But WWV answered. Likes knocked in a run with a single, and Turner Edwards plated two with a base hit, and WWV roared back to narrow the gap to 11-7 after five.
Both clubs exchanged sixth-inning home runs. Oliver blasted a two-run shot following Hoeft's fourth hit of the game, a two-run double, and WWP went on to score five times.
WWV got a three-run blast from Likes to highlight WWV's four-run sixth, but Valley came up short as WWP held on for the 16-11 win.
"We hit the ball well," manager Bergevin said. "We need to shore up our defense and get good pitching. We've got everybody (all our pitchers), except Connor (Hoeft) who finished the game (4 2/3 innings in relief), for Thursday. Hopefully, they can throw strikes.
"I feel confident (about Thursday), but it (Valley) is a tough team," Bergevin continued. "It's a shame only one can go to state. I think both (teams) would do well."
Asotin County 12, WW Valley 11
Ricky Oliver's first-inning single keyed a two-run first for Valley in its elimination battle with Asotin County.
Singles by Seth Ahrens, Keldan Swant, Oliver, and a two-run base hit from Bobby Holtzinger led to a three-run WWV third, and a 5-0 lead.
Asotin answered as it solved WWV starting pitcher Javon Handcox in the third. A key two-out two-run single from Josh Wilkinson pulled Asotin within 5-4.
Oliver's triple sparked WWV to a four-run fourth as Valley got the lead back up to five at 9-4.
Handcox was relieved in the fourth and left with the lead and finished his outing with eight strikeouts.
Asotin scored twice in the fourth to narrow the gap to 9-6.
WWV got a two-run double from Swant in the fifth to up the lead to 11-6.
AC had the answers in the fifth. A walk, a Nate Savolainen double and three WWV errors, and AC had the lead narrowed to 11-10 with two outs and the tying run on base.
Gwinn did the rest. Gwinn hit what proved to be a game-winning two-run blast over the left field fence and Asotin grabbed a 12-11 lead.
Holtzinger doubled in the WWV sixth, but Valley couldn't get the tying run home from second, and Asotin lived to play today.
WW Valley finishes third in the tournament.
Asotin County 17, Touchet Valley 2
Asotin County 709 1 - 17 13 0
Touchet Valley 101 0 - 2 2 5
Callahan, Hill (3), Mingo (3) and Gingerich, Magnuson (3); Gonzalez, Fedderson (3), Bren (3) and Dunn.
Hits - AC: Magnuson 2, Hansen 2, Gingerich, Lane 2, Hill 2, Slaybaugh 2, Callahan, Mingo; TV: Gradwohl, Dunn.
Walla Walla Pacific 16, Walla Walla Valley 11
WWP 303 145 - 16 13 3
WWV 210 134 - 11 10 6
Ortiz, Hoeft (2) and Oliver, Ortiz (2). Likes, Shumate (5) and Lemma.
HR - WWP: Ortiz, Oliver.
Hits - WWP: Knowles 2, Hoeft 4, Ortiz, Elsom 2, Haen, Morris 2, Oliver; WWV: Davis, Likes 3, Kohler, Worden, James, Camacho, Edwards, Lemma.
Asotin County 12, Walla Walla Valley 11
WWV 203 420 - 11 11 4
Asotin County 004 26x - 12 6 4
Handcox, Holtzinger (4), Mastin (5) and Oliver; Savolainen, Elskamp (4) and Olszewski.
HR - AC: Gwinn.
Hits - WWV: Handcox, Ahrens 2, Swant 3, Oliver 2, Holtzinger 2, Mastin; AC: Judy, Savolainen, Gwinn, Landrus, Wilkinson.