WEST RICHLAND - Walla Walla scored six runs in the top of the seventh inning that it didn't need in posting a 9-1 victory over the Hanford Flames in the first game of a Central Washington Junior American Legion League baseball doubleheader here Thursday.
Then, in the nightcap, the Bruins scratched for three seventh-inning runs but came up short as the Flames held on for a 6-4 victory and escaped with a split that left the Walla Wallans with a 12-10 league record.
"We had runners on base most of the day, particularly in the second game," Bruins coach Jason Parsons said, noting that his team outhit Hanford 12-6 in game two. "We left 11 runners on base in that game. We needed some guys to step up and get a clutch hit, and we just couldn't get it."
Daniel Lake pitched a complete game in the opener, allowing just five hits and a single earned run in the fifth inning. He finished with six strikeouts and four walks.
"He's a contact pitcher who did a nice job for us again today," Parsons said. "Our pitching has been outstanding the last couple of weeks."
Ali Buentello's infield grounder plated the first Griz run in the first inning and an infield error allowed a second run to score. The Walla Wallans then made it a 3-0 game in the top of the fourth as Kelton Fulmer lined an RBI single into center field that scored Luke Reardon, who had been hit by a pitch and moved around to third on Julian Zamora's bunt and Jarrod Needham's fly ball to right field.
Zamora's two-run double highlighted the Griz's six-run seventh inning that padded the lead to 9-1.
Trailing 1-0 in the second game, the Griz drew even in the second inning when Zamora singled and later scored on Needham's infield out. But by the time the seventh inning rolled around, the Griz found themselves in a 6-1 hole.
Fulmer walked and Daniel Lake and Daniel Camacho smacked back-to-back singles to load the bases. Zane Henderson drew a walk to force in the first run and Zamora followed with a two-run single to make it 6-4.
Needham walked to reload the bases before an infield grounder ended the threat and the game.
The split enabled the Griz to maintain their sixth-place standing in the 14-team league. The top eight teams qualify for the district tournament.
Walla Walla has a pair of league doubleheaders remaining on its schedule. The Griz host the Eastmont Strikers Saturday at Murr Field beginning at 2 p.m., and they close out league play at the Kennewick Dusters Monday, also at 2 p.m.
"I think if we can split these two doubleheaders, that will be enough to assure us of getting into district," Parsons said. "Kennewick is in seventh place, right behind us, and Eastmont is in ninth. So these are important games for our opponents as well.
"But if we could sweep both of these doubleheaders, we could finish as high as second place."
Walla Walla 200 100 6 - 9 6 1
Hanford 000 010 0 - 1 5 3
Lake and Fulmer; Mitchell, Hopp (7), Koz (7) and Enderlin.
Hits - WW: Lake, Camacho 2, Henderson, Zamora, Fulmer; Hanford: Quadrel 2, Juergens, Henry, Heiman.
Walla Walla 010 000 3 - 4 12 3
Hanford 100 014 x - 6 6 1
Zehner and Daniel, Fulmer (6); Heid, Juergens (6) and Miles.
Hits - WW: Lake 2, Camacho, Henderson, Zamora 2, Reardon 2, Sumerlin 2, Daniel 2; Hanford: Heid 2, Quadrel, Henry, Miles, Mikes.