RICHLAND — The Walla Walla Bruins were anything but complacent here Tuesday night.
Despite locking up the Central Washington Junior American Legion League South Division championship on Monday by splitting a pair of 6-5 games with Hanford in Walla Walla, the Bruins outlasted the Flames 7-6 in Tuesday’s regular-season finale.
Thus, the Bruins will take a 30-6 overall record into the district tournament which begins Friday on the Walla Walla Community College diamond and in Selah. Walla Walla won the South Division title with a 15-3 record.
Hanford, the Richland Knights and the Kennewick Phantoms will also represent the South Division in district play, but it remains to be seen which team will join the Bruins in Walla Walla and which two will travel to Selah. Richland (11-6) faces Hanford (10-7) in a makeup game here today while Kennewick (11-7) has already completed league play.
If Hanford prevails in today’s game, all three teams will finish at 11-7 and tiebreakers will be necessary to determine district seeding.
Walla Walla is slated to meet the Apple Valley Packers of Wenatchee, the No. 4 team out of the North Division, Friday at 5 p.m. In the 2 p.m. district opener Friday, the Moses Lake Walleyes, the No. 3 seed from the South, will face the No. 2 seed from the North — Hanford, Richland or Kennewick.
The district tournament runs through Monday, and the top four teams will advance to the state tournament. And since the Bruins will also host the state tournament, which is scheduled July 27-Aug. 1, Walla Walla is guaranteed a berth in the state field.
But it’s highly unlikely that Bruins coach Jason Parsons will settle for the automatic entry. He and his players are aiming for the district championship.
“We have all of our pitchers available on four or five days rest, and our pitching has been solid for us all summer,” Parsons said. “For the two guys to come out and pitch the way they did here Tuesday is really quite remarkable.”
Kyle Barker, who was coming off an injury, started Tuesday’s game and was on a 45-pitch limit. Nevertheless, Barker made it through four innings, allowed just two hits and no runs while striking out two and walking one.
Logan Cordeiro came on in relief in the fifth inning and finished up. He scattered seven hits and walked just one, with no strikeouts. Three of the six runs charged against him were unearned.
Walla Walla built an early 5-0 lead after three innings, plated a sixth run in the fourth and pushed across what proved to be the winning run in the top of the sixth. Adam Eskil opened the sixth inning with a single and scored one out later on Robi Novak’s double to deep left field.
The Bruins collected eight hits in the game by eight different players, including Reid Magnaghi’s two-run single in the second innings, Blake McKinney’s RBI double followed by Matt Daniel’s RBI single in the third, and Ryan Kimball’s leadoff home run in the fourth inning, his second round-tripper of the season.
“We also took advantage of a lot of free rides — walks and hit batters,” Parsons said.
Mitch Godwin stroked three of Hanford’s nine hits in the game and Steven Quadrel added a pair of hits.
“Our guys should be pretty proud of themselves,” Parsons said. “We completed the regular season with 30 wins, and we have a lot of confidence going into the district tournament.”
Bruins 7, Flames 6
Walla Walla 023 101 000 — 7 8 3
Hanford 000 002 202 — 6 9 1
Barker, Cordeiro (5) and Watilo, Novak (6); Juergens, Godwin (6) and Romero.
HR — WW, Kimball.
Hits — WW: Magnaghi, Eskil, Kimball, Novak, McKinney, Daniel, Cordeiro, Watilo; Hanford: Godwin 3, Quadrel 2, Marks, Heiman, Romero, True.