WALLA WALLA — Walla Walla High School used a five-run fifth inning to hand Mid-Columbia Conference baseball co-leader Southridge its first league loss here Tuesday in the opener of the twin bill, 9-3.
The Suns, behind the six-hit pitching of Jake Ebberts, took game two, 5-1.
“We’re eyeing that second (4A playoff) spot,” Wa-Hi coach Keith Gradwohl said. “This split helps us. The second spot gets an opening-round bye. We didn’t win the state championship today, nor did we lose it.”
Southridge’s Austin Morfin blasted a high drive to left-center which fell for a second-inning RBI triple to give the Suns a 1-0 lead in the opener.
Following a third-inning lead-off bunt single by Daniel Lake, Zane Henderson followed with an RBI triple to the center-field fence to score Lake. A Suns error and a ground out by Colby Watilo gave the Blue Devils a 3-1 lead after three.
“I was looking for a pitch to drive and got a first-pitch fastball,” Henderson said. “The wind is blowing out, which doesn’t usually happen at Murr, and that carried it a bit.”
Anthony Arellano’s pinch-hit, fifth-inning single scored Henderson, who had singled with one out, and Wa-Hi took a 4-2 lead.
Leading 4-3 in the home sixth, the Blue Devils got an RBI single from Daniel Camacho and loaded the bases.
Henderson knocked in his second run of the game with a sac fly to right, and J.J. Zamora culminated the five-run, five-hit Wa-Hi inning with a two-run single, and the Blue Devils took a 9-3 lead to the seventh.
“I was looking for a ball mid-thigh that I could drive to the outfield to score the run,” Henderson said. “Things just started happening. That’s the baseball gods right there. People started spraying balls to the outfield and we started scoring runs.”
Adam Mathews finished off his three-hitter with a scoreless seventh.
“Zane continues to play really well,” Gradwohl said. “That’s two really good outings (a 4-0 win over Kamiakin last Friday) in a row for Adam.”
The Wa-Hi pitching staff needed it as Luke Reardon (shoulder) and Jarrod Needham (back) remain on injured reserve.
The Blue Devils lost Spencer Locati on his second at-bat back after returning from a shoulder injury as Locati suffered a knee injury in a play at first base in the opening win.
“The first game was bittersweet having Spencer get hurt,” Gradwohl said. “I feel really bad for him.”
Zamora got Wa-Hi off in the second game with a run-producing, two-out single in the Blue Devil first.
Ebberts took it from there as Wa-Hi only managed four hits the rest of the way against the side arming senior.
Wa-Hi’s starter, Zach Zehner, kept the Blue Devils close as the Suns led 2-1 going to the seventh.
Cole Henderson blasted a double to straight-away center to open the Suns’ seventh inning.
Addison Spivey ended the three-run rally with a two-RBI single and the Suns led 5-1.
Wa-Hi took advantage of two Suns errors and an infield hit by Lake to load the bases in the home seventh with one out, but Ebberts enticed a doubleplay grounder to end the Wa-Hi threat.
“The best thing I like about today, in the seventh we didn’t fold,” Gradwohl said. “They made a couple of errors, but we hit a couple of balls hard. We were up there battling.”
Lake led the Blue Devils with seven hits on the day, and the Wa-Hi right fielder recorded nine put-outs on the afternoon.
Wa-Hi travels to Kennewick to play the 3A Lions Friday.
“We know we are going for seeding,” Henderson said. “If we get splits with these 3A teams, we’ll be able to take (4A) second place.”
Southridge 010 101 0 — 3 3 3
Wa-Hi 003 015 x — 9 14 3
T. Nett, Kreutz (6) and A. Morfin; Mathews and Watilo.
HR — none.
Hits — South: A. Morfin, O’Neil, Lathim; Wa-Hi: Mathews 2, Henderson 3, Pontarolo, Lake 3, Arellano, Ruiz, Camacho, Buentello, Zamora.
Southridge 001 100 3 — 5 9 3
Wa-Hi 100 000 0 — 1 6 4
Ebberts and A. Morfin; Zehner and Fulmer.
HR — none.
Hits — South: Newby, O’Neil, Lathim 2, Spivey 3, Henderson, Ebberts; Wa-Hi: Pontarolo, Lake 4, Zamora.