POMEROY — It took four strikeouts in the seventh inning, but Dayton High School relief pitcher Lowden Smith was able to preserve an 8-5 win for the Bulldogs over St. John-Endicott/LaCrosse-Washtucna/Kahlotus in a neutral-site play-in game Monday for a spot in the District 9 tournament.
With the win, the Bulldogs (6-13) advance to another loser-out game against third-seeded Tri-Cities Prep today at 4 p.m. at Chiawana High School in Pasco. Dayton played Monday’s game due to a game the Bulldogs forfeited against St.J-E/L-W/K earlier in the season.
Logan Hays started on the mound for the Bulldogs, and Dayton coach Sal Benavides said he was on the verge of pulling Hays in the third after the hurler gave up five hits and three runs in three innings.
But Hays escaped a bases-loaded jam to end the third and ended up pitching into the sixth and handing Smith an 8-2 lead.
Hays finished with seven strikeouts, three walks and didn’t give up any hits after the first three innings.
“I saved my ace Lowden Smith for today (Tuesday) because it’s the only chance we had to win today against Tri-Cities Prep,” Benavides said. “I told my guy that I wasn’t going to let him keep pitching if he was having a bad game because we needed to win. I was already on the edge of the dugout in the third and he just ended up pulling it together and going the rest of the game.”
Dayton knocked 13 base hits on the day, but clung to a 4-3 lead after three innings.
Smith provided a couple of runs in the first on a two-RBI triple, and Hays helped his own cause with a two-RBI double in the fourth to blow the game open and give Dayton a 7-3 lead.
Leadoff batter Christian Warner played his role well, Benavides said, collecting four hits on the day.
“His (Warner’s) bat and Logan’s pitching, I thought, were the difference today,” Benavides said. “When we’re visitors, even if we just get a couple of runs in each inning it really makes a difference. Having the lead there (late in the game kind of relaxes them a little bit.”
Smith came on in relief in the seventh to get some at bats under his belt after not playing the past week and ended up needing that five-run cushion.
Smith struck the first batter out, but his final strike was in the dirt and the batter advanced to first. The next batter up hit into an error, and both baserunners advanced on stolen bases before scoring on a passed ball to give St.J-E/L-W/K life in the final frame.
But Smith struck out the final three batters to end the inning and keep Dayton’s season alive.
DAYTON 8, SJ-E/L-W/K 5
Dayton 310 301 0 — 8 13 4
SJ-End 111 000 2 — 5 5 1
Hays, Smith (7) and Spalinger. Wigen, Rice (6) and Hudson.
Hits — Day: Spalinger, Hays, Willis, Swan, Tmoon, Loper 2, Smith 2, Warner 4; SJE: White, Smith, Wigen, Hudson 2.