DAYTON - Dayton unleashed a 13-hit attack and got a complete-game four hitter from Sam Harting in the circle to survive an elimination game here Tuesday in Southeast 2B district softball action.
The Bulldogs scored three runs in the first inning and never looked back as they emerged with a 9-2 win over Liberty Christian.
Dayton faces Tekoa-Oakesdale-Rosalia, a 4-3 winner over Asotin on Tuesday, in a loser-out battle Friday at 4 p.m. at the TRAC in Pasco. Friday's winner claims the district's third and final state berth.
"We played very smart, solid ball," Bulldog coach Terry Robins said of the 9-2 win. "The kids hit the ball really well. Sammy (Harting) pitched well, but didn't pitch great."
Sarah Phillips led off the Dayton first and drew a walk. Harting followed with a double to left. Add a walk, a Patriot error, and Malia Frame's run-scoring single, and the Bulldogs grabbed a 3-0 lead after one.
Shelby Smith's sacrifice fly got another Bulldog run home in the second, and Dayton, behind singles from Lexus Ward and Phillips, plated two more in the third for an insurmountable 6-0 lead after three stanzas.
"We've been hitting the ball good for about a week," Robins said. "I think we are peaking at the right time."
In the circle, Harting gave up a first-inning single to the Patriots' Isabella Loera, but didn't allow another hit until the fifth and took a 6-0 lead to the fifth.
"I wasn't on my best game today," Harting said. "The heat kind of got to me. I'm really glad I had my team to back me up. They came to play and without them, I couldn't have kept pitching."
Harting's only hiccup came in the Patriot fifth. A hit batsman, Liv Kelly, started the Patriot fifth. Rilie Berg followed with a bloop single to right and Loera, with a deep single to center, drove them both home.
The Bulldogs responded as singles from Colleen Delp and Ward set the table. Phillips knocked in one and RBI doubles from Harting and Nicole Lambert pushed the lead to 9-2 after five.
Harting worked a scoreless sixth and seventh and the Bulldogs earned a trip to Pasco. Harting finished with a four-hitter and struck out five in going the distance.
"You just have to fight through it and stay mentally tough," Harting said of bouncing back from the Patriot rally. "My team backed me up and that was really good."
Harting, Lambert, Ward, Phillips and Jessica Tate each finished with two hits to lead the Bulldog offense.
"We were on the bats today," Harting said. "We played them Thursday (a Bulldog sweep) and that really helped us. That gave us confidence."
The Bulldogs will be looking to make a return trip to state with a win Friday.
"Last year was our best at state (a 2-2 record)," Robins said. "This team is as good. Hopefully, we can win Friday and get to state again."
"I'm going to try and pitch way better on Friday," Harting said. "I'm going to really work on it so I can do better."
Dayton 9, Liberty Christian 2
Liberty Christ 000 020 0 - 2 4 4
Dayton 312 030 X - 9 13 0
Peterson and Croskrey; Harting and Bickelhaupt.
HR - none.
Hits - LC: Loera 2, Berg, Nesbit; Day: Harting 2, Frame, Lambert 2, Ward 2, Phillips 2, Bickelhaupt, Tate 2, Delp.