SELAH, Wash. - The Walla Walla Bruins are at it again.
The defending Central Washington Junior American Legion district champions knocked off the top-seeded Yakima Peppers 7-4 in eight innings here Sunday for their second postseason win in as many days. The Bruins defeated the Richland Knights 3-2 on Saturday in their district opener.
Richland bounced back with a pair of loser-out victories, sending both Moses Lake and host Yakima packing, and faces Walla Walla today, needing two victories over the Bruins to capture a state tournament berth.
Because the host Peppers are out of the tournament, today's game (or games) has been moved from Selah to Hanford. Action is slated to begin at 5 p.m., with Zack Zehner taking the mound for the Bruins.
"He's fresh, he hasn't thrown yet in this tournament," Walla Walla coach Jason Parsons said. "If a second game is needed, Jarrod Needham will be our starting pitcher."
One victory today will assure the Bruins of a state berth. Even if they should lose twice, they would get an opportunity to claim the district's No. 3 state ticket in a Tuesday game against the second-place team from the other half of the district tournament that is being contested in Kennewick.
"We don't know where Tuesday's game would be played," Parsons said. "But we feel like we are in pretty good shape going into today."
This year's state tourney begins Saturday in Anacortes. The Bruins made their very first state appearance last year and won their first game before being eliminated with back-to-back losses.
Daniel Lake allowed four runs in the first three innings Sunday, but he put up three consecutive zeroes before turning the game over to Zane Henderson, who fired two strong innings to earn the victory.
"Daniel only had one strikeout and walked three," Parsons said of his starting pitcher. "But he tightened up when he had to and was able to reduce the damage. They had runners on base quite often, but he battled through it every time."
And that gave the Bruins the opportunity to rally. After scoring twice in the top of the first inning, they scrounged for single runs in the third and fifth to tie the game at 4-4 and ultimately send it into extra innings.
Henderson had an RBI double off the right-field wall, reached third base on a balk and scored on an error to account for the two first-inning runs. He then bunted for a base hit in the third, took second on Luke Reardon's sacrifice bunt and scored on an error that allowed Walla Walla to assume a brief 3-2 lead.
Trailing 4-3 with one out in the fourth, Daniel Camacho was hit by a pitch and stole second base. Reardon's line-drive single chased home Camacho and tied the game.
The winning rally in the eighth started in similar fashion as Nate Sumerlin was hit by a pitch. Junior Ruiz entered the game as a pinch runner and zoomed around to third base on an errant pickoff attempt at first base.
Kelton Fulmer was hit by a pitch and quickly stole second base. Lake put down a safety squeeze bunt that plated Ruiz with the go-ahead run and Camacho followed with a single that drove home Fulmer. Camacho stole second and scored the innings's third run on a single by Henderson.
Walla Walla 7, Yakima 4
Walla Walla 201 100 03 - 7 8 1
Yakima 202 000 00 - 4 10 3
Lake, Henderson (7) and Daniel, Fulmer (5); Logan, Turner (7) and Patrea.
Hits - WW: Lake, Camacho 2, Henderson 3, Reardon, Daniel; Yakima: Turner 2, Reeves 3, Hall 2, Logan, Yarbrough, Huffey.