SPOKANE - Physical errors in the field and mental mistakes on the base paths were too much to overcome here Monday as the Walla Walla Griz suffered their first defeat at the American Legion Single A state baseball tournament at University High School.
Bellingham was the recipient of the Griz's largesse, recording a 5-3 victory and emerging as the tournament's only remaining unbeaten team.
"This is pressure baseball and we have been putting pressure on ourselves," Walla Walla coach Ryan Van Dyke said. "We have started slowly in all three of our games, and we are not capitalizing when we should."
The Griz were nursing a 1-0 lead until the sixth inning when the wheels came off. Three Walla Walla errors coupled with three walks, a passed ball and one hit - an RBI single by Aaron Nichols - snowballed into a 5-1 Belligham lead the Griz were unable to overcome.
"The errors weren't hard plays," Van Dyke said. "Just routine plays where we didn't make the throws. We had multiple opportunities to get out of that inning without giving up any runs."
And it was base-running breakdowns earlier in the game that prevented Walla Walla from mounting a bigger advantage and perhaps alleviating some of the pressure that could have led to the sixth-inning defensive collapse.
For instance, Kal Gray singled to open the Walla Walla fourth and advanced to second base on a passed ball with nobody out. Ryan Kimball's deep line drive was caught by the Bellingham right fielder who doubled Gray off of second base.
"It was a great play by their right fielder, and Kal said that he never saw the ball," Van Dyke said. "But it was a base-running mistake.
"We also had a guy picked off of first base and a couple of guys thrown out at second. We had quite a few base-running mistakes."
The Griz scored their first run in the third inning in spite of a base-running blunder.
Gavin McEvoy singled and moved to second on Trevor Coronado's sacrifice bunt. Justin Elsom followed with a ground ball to shortstop and McEvoy was thrown out trying to advance to third on the play. Reid Magnaghi's double into the right-center field gap scored Elsom and enabled the Griz to salvage one run.
Walla Walla plated its other two runs in the bottom of the sixth after falling behind 5-1.
Back-to-back singles with Colby Watilo and Solomon Arellano got the rally going after two were out. Both runners advanced on a passed ball and McEvoy doubled them home.
The loss dropped Walla Walla into a loser-out game today at 3 p.m. against Mason Baseball of Olympia. Mason Baseball stayed alive Monday with an 18-0 victory over Mount Spokane in a loser-out game.
In Monday's other loser-out game, Woodinville eliminated Gonzaga Prep 12-2. Woodinville is matched against Bellingham tonight at 6.
If the Griz are able to regroup and beat Mason today, they will face either Bellingham or Woodinville Wednesday at noon with the state title still within reach.
Bellingham 5, Walla Walla 3
Bellingham 000 005 0 - 5 6 1
Walla Walla 001 002 0 - 3 8 3
Hampton and Tripp; Barker, Taylor (6) and Watilo.
Hits - Bellingham: Fox 2, Albert, Hampton, Carmichael, Nichols; WW: Magnaghi, Gray, Watilo 2, Arellano, McEvoy 3.