EPHRATA, Wash. - The Walla Walla Bears defeated the Tri-County Outlaws for the third time in four days here Sunday in the championship game of the High Desert Classic American Legion baseball tournament.
Sunday's 7-5 victory in the championship game was preceded by a 2-1 semifinal victory over the Pullman Patriots in which Drew Christina pitched a one-hitter and twin brother Brett stroked a game-winning single in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The Bears advanced to Sunday's semifinals after posting a 3-1 record during three days of pool play. The Walla Wallans began the tournament Thursday with a 7-1 victory over Tri-County, an all-community college squad that plays out of Hermiston, bested the host Columbia Basin Desert Dogs 11-1 on Friday and split a pair of games on Saturday, defeating Tri-County 11-3 and losing to the Hanford Flames 7-2.
The Bears improved to 16-6 overall. They open play in the Yakima Firecracker Tournament on Thursday when they face the Columbia Basin Desert Dogs in a 2 p.m. game.
Kevin Toon, Walla Walla's hottest hitter throughout the tournament, drilled an RBI single and Brett Christina plated another run with a sacrifice fly as the Bears took a 2-0 lead in the first inning of the championship game.
Tri-County errors led to two more runs in the third inning as Walla Walla expanded its lead to 4-1. Consecutive singles Josh Eggers, Moe Handcox and Connor Lawhead loaded the bases with Bears in the fifth inning, and Pete Bakker's infield grounder scored Eggers for a 5-3 lead. And Brett Christina singled home a run and Michael Pontarolo delivered a run with a sacrifice fly in the sixth for a pair of insurance runs.
Spencer Cordeiro pitched into the sixth inning for Walla Walla and Connor Holbrook finished up for his first save of the season.
Drew Christina dominated on the mound in the tight semifinal affair as he pitched six shutout innings before the Patriots scored twice in the top of the seventh to tie the game at 2-2.
"He was just excellent, gave us exactly what we needed," Bears coach Brian Kitamura said of Drew Christina, who struck out 12, walked five and took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. "The zone was tight, but he did a good job of working with it and forcing their hitters to swing at his pitches."
Pullman scored twice in the seventh inning on its only hit of the game, both Walla Walla errors, a walk and a fielder's choice. With the bases loaded and one out, Christina worked out of the jam with a strikeout and an infield grounder.
In the bottom of the seventh, Lawhead was hit by a pitch and was moved to second on Bakker's sacrifice bunt. After Toon, who had 11 hits in the tournament, was walked intentionally, Brett Christina followed with his walk-off base hit.
Walla Walla scored its first run in the first inning when Handcox reached on an error, stole second, took third on a passed ball and scored on Toon's two-out double. In the fifth, Holbrook singled, moved to second on Eggers' sacrifice bunt, advanced to third on Handcox's fly ball and scored on a single by Lawhead.
Walla Walla 7, Tri-County 5
Tri-County 001 200 2 - 5 9 5
Walla Walla 202 102 x - 7 10 2
Thornhill, Woodward (5) and Price; Cordiero, Holbrook (7) and Lemke.
HR - Tri-County, Woodward.
Hits - Tri-County: Price, Moreno, Bowe, Woodward 2, Gabriel, Thornhill, Day, Lewis; WW: Handcox, Lawhead 2, Toon, B. Christina 2, Pontarolo, Lemke, Holbrook, Eggers.
Walla Walla 3, Pullman 2
Pullman 000 000 2 - 2 1 1
Walla Walla 100 010 1 - 1 6 2
Peterson and Druffel; D. Christina and Holbrook.
Hits - Pullman: Abdul; WW: Lawhead, Toon 2, B. Christina, Pontarolo, Holbrook.