Wa-Hi splits wild twin bill with Southridge

The weather plays a part as the Blue Devils win the opener, 7-3, before the Suns take the 15-9 victory in the nightcap.

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By KEN MORGAN

of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin

WALLA WALLA - In a non-league baseball doubleheader here Friday at Murr Field, Southridge, Wa-Hi and the weather gave the hearty fans a little bit of everything.

Good pitching produced a 7-3 Blue Devil win in the opener.

Good hitting - an 18-hit Southridge attack - produced a Suns 15-9 win in the nightcap.

The weather did the rest as the games played through hail, rain, wind - and even a little bit of sunshine.

"They (Southridge) are a real good club," Wa-Hi coach Keith Gradwohl said. "For us to stay in both ballgames, we're really happy. We scored 16 runs, and we're real happy with that. Tibbs (assistant coach Scott Tibbling) and I are real happy with what's going on."

Wa-Hi broke up a scoreless tie in the third inning of the opener. Moe Handcox reached on a fielder's choice, Michael Pontarolo drew a walk, and Kevin Toon got one through the left side to plate Handcox.

Matt Watson's grounder was misplayed and Pontarolo scooted home for a 2-0 Wa-Hi lead.

Southpaw Drew Christina took a no-hitter to the Suns' fourth. Matt Mendenhall ripped the first Suns hit to the base of the left-field fence to knock in one run. Ty Jackson singled home Mendenhall and Jackson came around to score on a groundout as Southridge grabbed a short-lived 3-2 lead.

"We had a long inning (the home third)," Christina said of the Suns' fourth. "The rain started coming down and I was just a little stiff out there. I didn't prepare in the dugout like I should've, and it came back to bite me."

The Wa-Hi offense answered in the home fourth. Jake Jimenez led off with a single. Jacob Thomason followed with a one-out single. Taylor Lemke came off the bench and delivered a run-scoring single, and Handcox followed with a two-run double as Wa-Hi took the lead for good at 5-3.

Toon's RBI double in the sixth keyed a two-run rally that ran the lead to 7-3, and the Suns never threatened off Christina.

"Game one was Drew's pitching," Gradwohl said. "Drew is the real deal. To shut that team out for six innings is a real good deal."

Christina finished with a complete-game five-hitter, struck out four, and only gave up one multi-hit inning to the Suns.

"I had all my stuff working," Christina said. "My curve wasn't exactly where I wanted it, but the changeup was working really well and I was hitting my spots. With hitters as good as some of their guys are, keeping them off balance is the key to getting outs."

Those Southridge hitters didn't waste any time in game two. Ty Jackson ripped a two-run home run over the left-field fence for a 2-0 Suns lead before Wa-Hi batted.

The Blue Devils clawed back and took advantage of five second-inning bases-on-balls to grab a 5-2 lead after two.

Lefty swinging Spencer O'Neil planted one past the right-field fence and onto Fern Avenue to highlight a four-run Suns fourth, and the Blue Devils never quite caught up.

Watson drilled a two-run double in a three-run Blue Devil fourth as Wa-Hi crept to within 9-8. The Suns added one in the top of the fifth on a RBI single by Mike McAdie, but back came the Blue Devils.

Josh Eggers reached on a two-base throwing error, stole third and scored on Watson's single to get Wa-Hi within 10-9. With two on and two out, Brett Christina drove one to the left-center gap, but McAdie made an over-the-shoulder diving grab to turn away the Blue Devils.

"We battled against a dang good club as they have three kids - O'Neil, Ty and Bryce Jackson - that have signed (to play) Division I," Gradwohl said. "We cut it to 10-9, then that kid makes that gap catch. We would've scored two."

The Suns culminated their 18-hit attack with three runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh, and Ty Jackson, the third Suns pitcher, blanked Wa-Hi over the last two innings as the Suns earned the split.

Wa-Hi moves to 3-2 on the season and travels to Kennewick to take on the Lions in a non-league double dip at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

"We have a lot of seniors and we have a good club," Drew Christina said. "We can go a long way as long as we play to our potential. We can't relax and think we're good, you've got to play good."

First Game

Southridge 000 300 0 - 3 5 3

Wa-Hi 002 302 x - 7 7 1

B. Jackson, C. O'Neil (5) and Jones; D. Christina and Holbrook.

HR - none.

Hits - Southridge: Mendenhall, T. Jackson, McAdie, C. O'Neil, Bartleson; Wa-Hi: Handcox 2, Toon 2, Jimenez, Thomason, Lemke.

Second Game

Southridge 204 313 2 - 15 18 2

Wa-Hi 140 310 0 - 9 6 3

Marston, Bettinson (2), T. Jackson (4) and Maurer, Jones (7); Campeau, Toon (4), Watson (7) and Holbrook.

HR - Southridge: T. Jackson, S. O'Neil.

Hits - Southridge: Mendenhall 3, T. Jackson 3, Hamada 3, B. Jackson 2, S. O'Neil 2, McAdie 2, Handerson 2, Newbry; Wa-Hi: Lemke, Jimenez, Toon, Watson 2, B. Christina.

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