Bruins top Reno to win Firecracker tournament

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BOISE, Idaho — Ryan Kimball pitched a complete game and his teammates provided him with an early six-run cushion here Sunday at the Walla Walla Bruins outclassed the Reno, Nev., A’s 8-3 in the championship game of the Donnelly Sports Firecracker summer baseball tournament.

The Bruins completed tournament play with a perfect 6-0 record and extended their overall mark to 25-5 as they head back into Central Washington Junior American Legion League play Thursday when they entertain the Richland Knights in an 11 a.m. single game at Murr Field.

“We’re right back into the gauntlet,” Bruins coach Jason Parsons said after leading his team to its second tournament championship in as many weeks. The Bruins won their own invitational June 30 with an 11-0 victory over the Kuna, Idaho, Diamondbacks at Borleske Stadium.

Walla Walla stands 10-2 and in first place in the Central Washington League, one game ahead of Hanford and two up on Richland. The Bruins and the Knights will play a doubleheader Friday in Richland, with the first pitch slated for 5 p.m.

Kimball was the sixth different starting pitcher in as many games here over the weekend. He scattered five hits, struck out seven and walked four in his route-going performance.

“He seemed to get a little stronger as the game went on,” Parsons said of Kimball. “His command improved.

“Pitching depth is definitely one of the strengths of this team,” the coach added.

So deep, in fact, that the Bruins didn’t miss one of their top hurlers, Kyle Barker, who was held out because of an injury.

“He’s one of our key guys and we need to get him back healthy,” Parsons said of Barker.

The Bruins took a lot of the drama out of Sunday’s championship game by plating six runs in the top of the first inning and chasing Reno starter Kellen Brewster, who only managed to register one out in a full trip through the Walla Walla lineup.

Leadoff hitter Ali Buentello got the big inning started with a single and quickly scampered home when Logan Cordeiro doubled into the right-center field gap. Kal Gray then drew a walk and Zach Zehner was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Adam Eskil produced the next two runs with a single and Trever Coronado followed with an RBI hit before Brewster chalked up a strikeout for the first out of the inning. But Brewster hit Nate Sumerlin with a pitch to reload the bases and David Pontarolo made him pay with an RBI single for a 5-0 Walla Walla lead.

Nick Farnsworth replaced Brewster on the mound and Buentello, batting for the second time in the inning, lofted a sacrifice fly to left field to account for the sixth run of the inning.

Farnsworth and Bridger Smith, who came on for Farnsworth in the fourth inning, kept the Bruins at bay until the top of the sixth inning when Walla Walla tacked on a pair of insurance runs.

Gray reached on an error, Zehner singled and both runners moved up on a passed ball. Reid Magnaghi’s infield grounder scored Gray and Coronado followed with an RBI single.

Reno got on the board with a single run in the third inning and tallied its final two runs in the bottom of the seventh. The Bruins outhit the A’s 10-5, with Coronado picking up a pair of hits for Walla Walla and Cory Charles hitting safely twice for Reno.

“Some of the teams we played in this tournament were a little young,” Parsons noted. “But the last couple of teams were not. Reno was an older team, and they were fundamentally sound, the equivalent of what we see in our league.

“At times we had trouble maintaining our concentration,” the coach added. “But it’s a pretty close-knit team. Pitching depth is our strength, and everybody will be at full rest when we get back into league play Thursday.”

Bruins 8, A’s 3

Walla Walla 600 002 0 — 8 10 2

Reno 001 000 2 — 3 5 2

Kimball and Novak, Watilo (6); Brewster, Farnsworth (1), Smith (4) and Howard.

Hits — WW: Buentello, Cordeiro, Zehner, Eskil, Coronado 2, Novak, Watilo, Sumerlin, Pontarolo; Reno: Trosclair, Nelson, Charles 2, Dericco.

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