WALLA WALLA — Walla Walla High School got a superlative effort on the mound from Ryan Kimball in the first game here against undefeated Kennewick in Mid Columbia Conference baseball action.
The Blue Devils then roared back from a six-run deficit in the night cap, but when the dust had settled, the Lions left town a perfect 14-0 on the season with a 5-1 10-inning win in the opener, and an 11-7 win in game two.
“We showed a little character today,” Blue Devil coach Keith Gradwohl said. “They are a good team. They have not been beat. We had them on the ropes twice. Give them credit, they played really well.”
Game one was a pitching duel between the Lions’ Mark Driver and Kimball. Driver got nicked in the Blue Devil third when Ali Buentello drew a two-out walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Buentello scored on Blake McKinney’s soft drive to left that fell just out of the reach of Lion left fielder Malik Sitler. McKinney’s single was the only hit Driver allowed in his six innings of work.
The Lions got to Kimball in the sixth. Sitler broke up Kimball’s no-hit bid with a lead off double. Dillon Plew sacrificed Sitler to third, and Sitler scored on Steven Sordahl’s ground out.
That was it. The Lions did not get another hit off Kimball. Kimball went nine innings and left in a 1-1 tie. Kimball forced 16 ground outs, allowed only one hit, struck out five, hit one and walked three — one intentional — but left with a no-decision.
“Kimball was dominant,” Gradwohl said of his sophomore righty. “A lot of ground balls, and only one hit through nine. He threw nine innings and got to 100 (pitches), and usually he’s doing that in six. He was pretty good.”
The Blue Devils had their chance to win it in the eighth. Buentello and McKinney opened the inning by drawing consecutive walks. Spencer Locati’s fly ball was dropped and Wa-Hi had the bases loaded and no outs. Reid Magnaghi then laced a line drive to Lions’ right fielder J.J. Hancock. Hancock caught Magnaghai’s shot and fired a one-bounce strike to the plate to double Buentello as he attempted to score from third. A pop-up ended the Wa-Hi threat.
“We got unlucky on the play at the plate,” Gradwohl commented. “The kid (Hancock) made a perfect throw. That was the worse thing that could’ve happened — to be in a double play with the bases loaded and nobody out.”
McKinney relieved Kimball to start the Lion 10th. McKinney got two quick outs, but lost the strike zone and walked in two, and Dylan DeWitt delivered a two-run single. The Blue Devils could not answer, although they loaded the bases in the home tenth before the Lions clinched the final out.
The Lions sent 10 hitters to the plate and scored six times on four hits to take a 6-0 lead against Wa-Hi starter Zach Zehner in the second inning of the night cap.
Zehner righted the ship and the Blue Devil bats responded with four in the third and three in the fourth. Buentello’s double and Logan Cordeiro’s RBI single highlighted the Wa-Hi third. Locati’s two-run double was followed by Kal Gray’s RBI single that got Wa-Hi even at 7-7 after four.
The Lions took advantage of a sinking line drive that Gray couldn’t come up with in left field, and an error to start a four-run sixth and grab an 11-7 lead.
“Zehner settled down and got people out after the second,” Gradwohl said. “Tough play in left on a sinking line drive.”
Wa-Hi got a Gray single in the sixth and a Cordeiro single in the seventh, but couldn’t put anything together as the Lions claimed the 11-7 win.
Wa-Hi travels to Southridge Tuesday looking to snap its four-game skid.
“It’s disappointing to lose,” Gradwohl said. “We played better today than we did Tuesday at Richland. We played a tough team really tough. We will be in the (4A) playoffs. We’ve just got to make sure we are ready to go.”
Kennewick 000 001 000 4 — 5 4 2
Wa-Hi 001 000 000 0 — 1 3 0
Mark Driver, Matt Driver (7) and Wilbert; Kimball, McKinney (10) and Watilo.
HR — none.
Hits — KeHS: Sitler 2, Kutzke, Wilbert; WW: McKinney, Davidson, Coronado.
Kennewick 060 104 0 — 11 11 1
Wa-Hi 004 300 0 — 7 10 3
C. Plew, Sittman (4), Scantlin (5) and Wilbert; Zehner, Taylor (7) and Novak, Watilo (3).
HR — none.
Hits — KeHS: Wilbert 2, Sordahl 3, Hancock 2, C. Plew 2, D. Plew, DeWitt; WW: Magnaghi 2, Cordeiro 2, Buentello, Davidson, McKinney, Locati, Gray 2.