Big inning lifts Flames to Legion win over Bears

Hanford scores all six runs in the second inning to garner the 6-4 victory over Walla Walla Tuesday.

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WALLA WALLA - A trio of Walla Walla Bears pitchers put eight zeroes on the scoreboard Tuesday night at Warriors Field on the Walla Walla Community College campus.

But visiting Hanford rang up six runs in the second inning of the nine-inning affair, and the Flames left town with a 6-4 American Legion baseball victory.

The loss left the Walla Wallans with an 11-5 record, but they'll get the opportunity to avenge Tuesday's loss over the weekend at the High Desert Classic in Ephrata. The Bears and the Flames are slated to face each other Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

Walla Walla opens tournament play Thursday at 3 p.m. when it meets the Tri-County Outlaws, who are based out of Hermiston. The Bears face the host Columbia Basin Riverdogs Friday at 5:30 p.m. and take on the Outlaws for a second time Saturday morning at 10 before finishing up pool play against the Flames.

The top two teams from the pool advance to Sunday's trophy round where they will be matched against the top two teams from the opposite pool. Those teams include Anderson Hay of Ellensburg, the Pullman Patriots, Kent Bulldogs, Bothel Blue Devils and Stanwood Cannons.

Walla Walla's Spencer Cordeiro pitched the first five innings Tuesday night and suffered the defeat. Taylor Lemke came on in the sixth inning and Connor Holbrook pitched the ninth.

Hanford's big inning was the product of four of the Flames' nine hits in the game, one walk, one hit batter and two critical errors. A.J. Hoskins' bases-loaded triple was the key hit in the inning, but only one of the six runs was earned.

"It was a rough inning for Spencer," Bears coach Brian Kitamura said. "We need to do a better job of backing up our pitchers defensively. We need to make the routine plays and understand when to get the out.

"Spencer settled down after the second inning and did a nice job for us," Kitamura added. "And Taylor and Connor did what we asked them to do. It was an opportunity for all three of our pitchers to work on mixing in their off-speed pitches and being able to throw pitches consistently for strikes, which all three of them did."

The Bears outhit Hanford 11-9 and pecked away at the Flames' lead with one run in the third inning, one in the seventh and a pair of runs in the ninth.

Holbrook walked and Mo Handcox and Josh Eggers singled to load the bases in the third inning. Pete Bakker's infield out pushed home Holbrook with the Bears' first run.

With one out in the seventh, Eggers was hit by a pitch, moved to third on Bakker's second base hit and scored on Kevin Toon's sacrifice fly.

Then, in the ninth, Handcox delivered a one-out double and Bakker's third hit of the game, a two-out single, scored Handcox and made it a 6-3 score. Toon and Brett Christina singled to load the bases, and Lemke's single produced the fourth run of the inning.

But with the bases still jammed, an infield pop fly ended the game.

Trevor Jones pitched the first six innings for Hanford to garner the victory. Jordan Burge came on in the seventh and finished up.

"They only had one strikeout between them," Kitamura said of the Hanford pitchers. "We hit a lot of balls hard. We just hit them right at people."

Flames 6, Bears 4

Hanford 060 000 000 - 6 9 3

Walla Walla 001 000 102 - 4 11 4

Jones, Burge (7) and Browne; Cordeiro, Lemke (6), Holbrook (9) and Holbrook, Lemke (9).

Hits - Hanford: Hoskins 2, McMichael, Neal 2, Benard 3, Lafon; WW: Handcox 2, Eggers, Bakker 3, Toon, B. Christina 2, Lemke 2.

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