Blue Devil bats wake after first league loss

Will Parnicky pitches a five-inning, two-hitter in game two to pick up a 12-2 win in the nightcap against visiting Chiawana Friday night.

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WALLA WALLA - It was feast or famine for Wa-Hi here on Friday the 13th in a Columbia Basin Big Nine 4A baseball doubleheader.

The Blue Devils were blanked by Chiawana southpaw Spencer Bennion through the first five innings of the opener and the Riverhawks posted a 4-1 win.

Wa-Hi used an eight-run fifth to earn a split of the twin bill with a mercy-rule, five-inning 12-2 win in the nightcap.

The first-game loss was Wa-Hi's first in league, and the Blue Devils faced the second game with their No. 2 pitcher, sophomore Adam Mathews, at home sick.

"We haven't had many chances for our team to be behind a rock," Wa-Hi coach Keith Gradwohl said of the Blue Devil dilemma facing game two. "When that time comes, are we going to point fingers, or are we going to come together as a team? They assured me they would come together. They proved it to me in game two.

"We were even behind (another) hard spot as our scheduled game two kid, (Mathews), was home sick with a 102 temperature," Gradwohl added. "Things happen for a reason. Adam getting sick forced us to throw Will (Parnicky) today. We need to have a three and four guy (pitcher) behind our one and two, Luke (Reardon) and Adam. We're trying to find them. We've got guys that have had good outings and Will (had a good outing today)."

Parnicky, a senior, made his first league pitching start of the season in game two, and gave the Blue Devils what they needed.

The Riverhawks scored a run without a hit in the first inning, and added an unearned run in the third, but that was all. Parnicky went five innings, struck out three, and only gave up two hits.

"I'm usually in relief," Parnicky said. "But I've pitched before and I was ready. We definitely felt like we needed to win this one (game two) and come back and prove ourselves."

The Blue Devils answered in the home first as Josh Eggers reached on a Riverhawk error and Taylor Lemke doubled him home. Lemke responded to the third-inning Riverhawk score as his sacrifice fly to center plated Moe Handcox, who led off the inning with a single.

Parnicky got stronger as he retired the last six Riverhawks he faced in order.

"My fastball was changing speeds a lot," Parnicky said. "My changeup was a little on-and-off, but my curve was pretty solid."

The bottom of the Blue Devil order got the Blue Devils over the hump in the home fourth. No. 7 hitter Zane Henderson ripped a single after Jarrod Needham opened the frame with a walk.

Michael Lesmeister followed with a walk, No. 9 hitter Cody Furstenberg singled to right, Needham scored from third on a wild pitch, and Henderson scored when Handcox beat out a Riverhawk attempt for a double play. Wa-Hi had its first lead of the day at 4-2.

Then the Blue Devils exploded for six hits and eight runs in the fifth.

Lemke singled and went to second when the ball got past the Riverhawk right fielder. Spencer Locati shot one off the left-field wall to score Lemke. Needham doubled Locati home and the Blue Devils were off and running.

Lemke's second hit of the inning, an RBI single, and Locati's second hit, a two-run single, gave Wa-Hi the 12-2 win.

Chiawana's C.J. Edrington opened game one when he took an 0-2 pitch over the right-field fence, and the Riverhawks never trailed.

Down 1-0, the Blue Devils ran into outs on an attempt to go from first to third on a sacrifice bunt that resulted in an out when pitcher Bennion got back in time to cover and end the Wa-Hi second. Wa-Hi used hits from Lesmeister, Furstenberg, and Handcox to threaten in the third. But two aggressive base running decisions stopped the threat as Wa-Hi tried to score from second on a wild pitch, and an aggressive turn at second base resulted in another out. Wa-Hi had three hits in the inning but trailed 1-0 going to the fourth.

"It wasn't like we were being lazy," Gradwohl said of the base running. "It was aggression, maybe with not thinking as well as we should've. It's easier to hold back aggression than it is to try and get it going."

Handcox doubled, his third hit of the game, to lead off the sixth, but Wa-Hi left the bases loaded. Wa-Hi closed to 4-1 in the seventh, but again left the bags full.

"Our offense was just sluggish in the first game," shortstop Parnicky said. "When we hit the ball hard, it would be right at someone."

Wa-Hi (9-3, 3-1) travels to Moses Lake Tuesday and to Richland Friday.

First Game

Chiawana 100 102 0 - 4 8 0

Wa-Hi 000 000 1 - 1 6 2

Bennion, Weiss (6) and Weiss, Graff (6); Reardon, Needham (7) and Lemke.

HR - Chiawana: Edrington.

Hits - Chiawana: Edrington, Gill, Thornhill 3, Weiss, M. Zamora 2; Wa-Hi: Handcox 3, Lesmeister, Furstenberg, J. Zamora.

Second Game

Chiawana 101 00 - 2 2 6

Wa-Hi 101 28 - 12 10 1

Burgess, Weiss (4), Thornhill (5), Bishop (5) and Weiss, Graff (4); Parnicky and Furstenberg.

HR - none.

Hits - Chiawana: Thornhill, Bennion; Wa-Hi: Lemke 3, Handcox, Henderson, Furstenberg, Locati 2, Needham, Lesmeister.

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