WALLA WALLA - A walk-off win in the seventh inning of game two and a mercy rule victory in the opener win ruled the day for the Wa-Hi Blue Devils Saturday, as they swept a doubleheader against Hermiston, 12-2 and 7-6, at Murr Field.
"We've got a ways to go, I'm not going to lie to you," Wa-Hi coach Keith Gradwohl said. "But there is something about certain clubs and these guys know how to win. There is really something about them. I just have the feeling that this team really knows how to win.
"It was winning ugly in game two, but we could have easily folded in our tents and lost," Gradwohl continued. "We battled back and got the clutch hit from Jarrod Needham."
That clutch hit for the Blue Devils came in the bottom of the seventh with no outs, the game tied at six and the bases loaded. Needham had two strikes and both the infield and outfield were pulled in close. The Bulldogs intentionally walked the previous hitter, Daniel Camacho, to get the force out at any base and to set up a possible double play.
Needham stroked a single to score the winning run and the Wa-Hi bench erupted onto the field and swamped him.
Wa-Hi led 5-0 going into the sixth inning, but Bulldogs exploded for six runs on five hits and three walks to take a 6-5 lead.
The Blue Devils built the 5-0 lead on one run in the first inning and two in both the fourth and fifth frames.
Wa-Hi pitcher Luke Reardon held the Bulldogs scoreless through three innings. Michael Lesmeister relieved Reardon in the fourth and gave up a hit in both the fourth and the fifth innings before being dinged for five runs in the sixth.
Spencer Locati relieved Lesmeister with an out left in the sixth and struck out his batter to end the inning. He threw two more strikeouts in the sixth and didn't give up a hit to record a save.
"We had that one bad inning in the field in game two," Gradwohl said, "Lesmeister had a tough outing but he'll battle back, he is a big horse. We are still trying to figure out who the starting pitchers will be, the starters in the field and who the role players will be.
"Reardon had another good outing on the mound and Locati got the save in the second game. Adam Matthews, for a sophomore, looked good on the hill in the first game and Needham relieved well in that game."
In game one, Hermiston jumped out to a 1-0, then a 2-1 lead through one and a half innings.
The Blue Devils claimed the lead for good with a three-run bottom of the second inning, jumping in front 4-2.
Lemke reached on a error to start the rally. Daniel Lake and Spencer Locati followed with walks to load the bases.
Reardon singled to drive in in two runs and Cody Furstenberg hit a sacrifice fly to score the third run.
Wa-Hi scored two more runs in the fourth and a single in the fifth.
Then they exploded for five runs to end the game on the mercy rule in the sixth innning.
Wa-Hi ran wild on the base paths in the two wins. The Blue Devils stole nine bases in the doubleheader and were caught just twice. Once they were caught on a pick-off and the other on a pitch out.
"We made a couple of mistakes on the basepaths," Gradwohl said, "but overall we think we've got some kids who can really scoot. We've got four or five kids who have the green light when they get to first base and I really think they can scoot."
The Blue Devils were also disciplined at the plate, walking eleven times during the afternoon.
"We were pretty good on getting the walks," Gradwohl said. "We want the hitters to be aggressive on pitch one, but they are smart enough to know when the pitchers are struggling, to take pitches and get deeper in the count. Getting walks is good, it is like getting a base knock and I don't think we walked many guys on the hill."
Blue Devil pitching walked seven Bulldogs in the 13 innings of play. Wa-Hi's defense made five errors, compared to eight for Hermiston.
Wa-Hi plays again Thursday at Southridge in a double header starting at 4 p.m.
Wa-Hi 12, Hermiston 2
Hermiston 110 000 - 2 5 5
Wa-Hi 130 215 - 12 7 2
Campbell, Smith (5), Demos (6), Almaguer (6) and Hamblin. Matthews, Needham (4) and Lemke.
HR - none.
Hits - Hermiston: Campbell 2, Gabriel, Baldock, Hamblin. Wa-Hi: Handcox 2, Lemke, Locati, Lake, Reardon, Furstenberg.
Wa-Hi 7, Hermiston 6
Hermiston 000 006 0 - 6 7 3
Wa-Hi 100 221 1 - 7 6 3
Pollick, Schwirse (5), Baldock (7) and Hamblin, Smith (4). Reardon, Lesmeister (4), Locati (6) and Fulmer, Furstenberg (4).
HR - none.
Hits - Hermiston: Kopacz, Gabriel 2, Baldock 2, Campbell, Posada. Wa-Hi: Eggers, Parnicky, Lemke, Flippo, Henderson, Furstenberg.