Bruins pound Rush, earn title bid

Walla Walla Bruins base runner Kyle Barker attempts to keep himself wide of the third-base bag and avoid the tag from a Honda player during their game Saturday in Walla Walla.

Walla Walla Bruins base runner Kyle Barker attempts to keep himself wide of the third-base bag and avoid the tag from a Honda player during their game Saturday in Walla Walla. Photo by Matthew Zimmerman Banderas.

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Water drips from the face of Bruins catcher Colby Watilo after he cooled off with water from a water fountain between innings of the team’s baseball game Saturday.

WALLA WALLA — The Walla Walla Bruins fought their way into today’s championship game in Saturday action at the AA American Legion Bruin Tournament.

The Bruins scored twice in their last at bat to pull out a 3-2 win over Bellevue in the quarterfinal and exploded for 13 second-inning runs to pull away from Seattle’s Washington Rush. The Bruins went on to post a 17-4 win over the Rush to earn a spot in the tournament’s title game.

The Bruins are now 4-0 on the tournament.

“I’m proud of the guys,” Bruin coach Jason Parsons said. “Everybody contributes. It’s hot and they have to work on the field all day, and they (still) come out and continue to compete.”

The Bruins face the Kuna Diamondbacks, a 4-2 winner over Sumner in the other Saturday semifinal, at 1 p.m. today at Borleske for the title of the 12-team tournament.

“We are adding the little things to the game which we are going to need come district time,” Parsons said. “You have to be able to do all the little things come playoff time. This summer we have been slowly adding each of those little things.”

Walla Walla 3, Bellevue 2

For six innings Bellevue lefty Graham Fields held the Walla Walla offense in check. Unfortunately for Bellevue, you have to get those last three outs.

Graham, who held Walla Walla to one run on four hits through six innings, took a 2-1 lead to the home seventh.

Colby Watilo drew a four-pitch walk to open the Bruin seventh and the afternoon heat caught up to Graham as Stephen Cowin was summoned in relief.

Cowin walked Blake McKinney and got a strikeout, but walked Zach Zehner to load the bases. David Pontarolo drew a walk to force in Watilo, the tying run, and move McKinney, who represented the game-winning run, to third.

Kal Gray lined to left field, but the throw to the plate to keep McKinney at third bounced away from Bellevue catcher Ezra Lacina and McKinney slid home for the game winner.

“This team is a resilient group,” Parsons said. “We just needed a chance and we got that chance.”

Zehner, on the hill for the Bruins, was nearly as good as Fields.

Bellevue got on the board first as Tyler Ridings blooped a two-out RBI single into left to give Bellevue a 1-0 lead in the second. With two outs in the Bellevue fourth, Cowin and Ridings singled and when the Bruins threw the ball away in an attempt to get Ridings, who took a wide turn at first, Cowin scored. That was it for Bellevue as Zehner gave up two runs and struck out eight in going the distance.

“He (Zehner) was fantastic,” Parsons said. “He was able to throw his slider for strikes and it made hitters uncomfortable. He’s the guy that kept us in this thing to give us a chance.”

The Bruins got back-to-back doubles from Trever Coronado and Robbie Novak to score their run in the fourth and set the stage for the seventh inning finish.

Walla Walla 17, Washington Rush 4

This one got off to an ugly start for both teams.

The Rush and Bruins combined for eight runs, 11 hits, and seven errors going into the home third. It didn’t get better for the Rush, as the Bruins sent 18 hitters to the plate and scored 13 runs in a marathon third.

“For two innings, it was just bad baseball for both teams,” Parsons said. “Then we got hot and (starting pitcher) Kyle (Barker) found the zone. They made some mistakes and we pounded the ball for awhile. It just snowballed for them and the game got out of hand.”

The Bruins gave away unearned runs in the first and second and trailed 2-0 coming to bat in the home second. A Pontarolo double, an RBI single from Watilo, and a run-scoring triple from Gray, his first of three hits on the night, got the Bruins the lead at 4-2 after two.

The Rush got an RBI double from Lawton Manipon to spark a two-run third and tie the game at 4-4.

Coronado started the third-inning uprising with a single and the Bruins scored 11 runs before the Rush recorded the first out of the inning.

Watilo had two doubles and drove in four runs in the inning. Zehner added a two-run double and Logan Cordeiro got in the act with a two-run single, as the Bruins scored 13 runs on seven hits to wrap the day’s action.

Gray and Watilo led the 13-hit Bruin attack with three hits each.

Walla Walla 3, Bellevue 2

Bellevue 010 100 0 — 2 7 1

Bruins 000 100 2 — 3 4 3

Fields, Cowin (7) and Lacina; Zehner and Daniel, Watilo (4).

Hits — Bell: Lance, Ridings 2, Tanner, Behrman, Cowin, Lacina; WW: Daniel, Barker, Coronado, Novak.

Walla Walla 17, Washington Rush 4

Rush 112 00 — 4 8 1

Bruins 04(13) 0x — 17 13 4

Bergmans, Jones (3), Jungman (3), Hoerner (4) and Pinorini; Barker, Novak (5) and Watilo, Novak (4), Daniel (5).

Hits — Rush: Cordova-Smith 2, Pinorini 2, Bergmans, Graham, Johnson, Manipon; WW: Gray 3, Pontarolo, Watilo 3, Buentello, Cordeiro, Zehner, Coronado, McKinney, Sumerlin.

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