PROSSER - There is a lot for the Sunnyside High School baseball team to play for this coming Tuesday afternoon, as the Hanford Falcons roll into town for a twin bill.
Up for grabs will be the final Mid-Valley League playoff berth, with five of the seven teams going to the postseason.
The Grizzlies took a big step in securing at least the fifth and final spot this past Saturday. Sunnyside swept Prosser in a twin bill, 12-1 and 12-0.
Sunnyside (4-6, 9-9) can finish as high as fourth in the Mid-Valley League with a sweep of Hanford. However, the Grizzlies can be dropped from the playoffs if Wapato pulls off an improbable sweep of red hot Ellensburg on Tuesday and if the Falcons take both games of the doubleheader against Sunnyside. The Bulldogs dropped state-ranked Selah this past weekend to move into second place in the Mid-Valley League standings.
This past Saturday was nothing short of a clinic for the Grizzly faithful. Sunnyside befuddled a struggling Mustang squad in both games.
"Prosser is a pretty young team," said Sunnyside Coach Dave Martinez.
Martinez went in with the game plan of having his pitchers toss only three innings each and the plan worked to perfection.
Martinez opened the first game with Joel Zakahi on the mound, who had three strong innings of work. He didn't give up one walk. The one run Prosser did score off Zakahi was unearned in the third inning. Martinez said the big key that helped Sunnyside for this Tuesday was the pitching performance of Tyler Esqueda in relief. Martinez said Esqueda being able to work three innings helped the Grizzlies save an arm for Tuesday's outing against Hanford.
The Grizzlies were able to jump on Prosser early, scoring three runs in the first. Chris Newberry got things rolling after reaching base on an error. Newberry later scored off a hit and run play from Cole Boboth. Boboth turned his at-bat into a triple. Boboth then scored off a double from Zakahi, who later came home off a single from Eric Crimp.
Sunnyside dominated the Prosser pitching staff, collecting 14 hits. Zakahi led the onslaught for the Grizzlies, going 3-for-4 with three doubles.
Boboth was hurt in the first game for Sunnyside, taking a ball he tried to field right in his eye. Martinez said Boboth will have a shiner, but should be good to go for Tuesday. Boboth was replaced by junior varsity player B.J. Miller, who played well, said Martinez.
In the nightcap, Sunnyside's Derek Uberuaga and Tyler Cullen combined to throw a three-hitter to shut out the Mustangs.
The Grizzlies had a big six-run sixth inning. Both Crimp and Esqueda had two-run singles in the sixth inning. Newberry had an RBI single and Miller put up a sac fly to plate the last run.
Sunnyside had 12 hits in the nightcap, highlighted by Newberry's 4-for-4 effort.
Martinez is hoping to have a big crowd at home Tuesday against Hanford. Game time is 2 p.m.
"We hope everybody is out there," said Martinez. "These are big baseball games for the Grizzlies."
1 2 3 4 5 6 T H E
Sunnyside 3 4 0 2 1 2 12 14 3
Prosser 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 5 8
Pitching-Joel Zakahi two strikeouts, two hits in three innings. Tyler Esqueda three strikeouts, three hits, three walks in three innings.
Hitting-Cole Boboth 2-for-2 with a triple in the first inning. Lucas Ramos 2-for-3. Eric Crimp 2-for-3. Joel Zakahi 3-for-4 with a double in the first, second and fourth innings. Pete Marquez 2-for-4. Chris Newberry 2-for-4.
1 2 3 4 5 6 T H E
Sunnyside 2 0 1 3 0 6 12 12 1
Prosser 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 1
Pitching-Derek Uberuaga three strikeouts, three hits, one walk in four innings. Tyler Cullen one strikeout, one walk in two innings.
Hitting-Anthony Palomarez 1-for-2. Derek Uberuaga 1-for-2 with a two-run home run in the first inning (Uberuaga's sixth homer of the season). Joel Zakahi 1-for-2. Tyler Esqueda 1-for-3. Tyler Cullen 1-for-3. Pete Marquez 1-for-3. Chris Newberry 4-for-4. Eric Crimp 2-for-4.