Saturday's doubleheader against the visiting Wapato Wolfpack was to have served as the springboard for the Sunnyside High School baseball team's late season push to earn the Mid-Valley League's fifth and final playoff berth. As it turned out, the twin bill didn't do much more than put the Grizzlies in a pair of must-win situations this coming Saturday against Prosser (3-5), the team Sunnyside (1-6) is trying to chase down for the conference's final spot to the District tournament.
By splitting with Wapato last Saturday, claiming a 7-2 win in the opening game but dropping a 10-8 decision to the Wolfpack in the nightcap, the Grizzlies now must also hope for a win this coming Wednesday at Ellensburg, or at the very least pick up a split against the Hanford Falcons in Sunnyside's regular season finale on Tuesday, May 2.
Sunnyside Coach Dave Martinez admits the Grizzlies have dug a hole for themselves. Entering Saturday's doubleheader against winless Wapato, Sunnyside had dropped its five opening conference games. Realistically, in terms of advancing to the postseason, sweeping the Wolves was the first order of business.
Instead, Sunnyside had to settle for a single victory, albeit its first in league play.
That's not to say, however, that the Grizzlies didn't give it their all in trying to pull off the sweep. Sunnyside had the Wolfpack tied at 5-all heading into the last inning of the closing game. A weary pitching staff, unfortunately, unraveled in the final frame and yielded five runs to Wapato.
Still, the Grizzlies weren't ready to roll over without a fight. In their half of the seventh, Cole Boboth initiated the comeback attempt by slapping a one-out single. An intentional walk to Joel Zakahi, who had already swatted two homers on the day enroute to a 6-for-7 performance at the plate, brought Timmy Briones to the plate. The senior clutched up and spanked a single to score Boboth. Lucas Ramos followed suit, lacing a single of his own to drive in Zakahi, to pull Sunnyside within 10-7. B.J. Miller then made it a 10-8 game by powering an RBI double to one of the gaps in the outfield.
The next Grizzly batter cracked an infield grounder, but the pinch runner for Ramos at third got thrown out at the plate when he broke for the dish on contact.
Zach Marquez reloaded the bases for Sunnyside when he worked a walk out of Wapato's pitcher, Pitt, but the Wolfpack hurler, who went the distance, fanned the next batter to record the final out of the game.
Sunnyside got its two, first inning runs on a pair of doubles by Boboth and Zakahi. The Grizzlies added two more tallies in the third on Zakahi's second home run of the day.
In the losing cause in Saturday's nightcap, Boboth was 4-for-4 at the plate, Zakahi 3-for-3 and Nathan Cornelius went 2-for-4.
In the opening 7-2 win over Wapato, Zakahi was the offensive leader for the Grizzlies. He socked a two-run homer in the sixth inning, his third hit of the game in four plate appearances. Also, Boboth went 2-for-3, and Ramos and Cornelius each added 2-for-4 performances.
Sunnyside inflicted the most damage in game one in the bottom of the third inning, when the Grizzlies pushed three runs across the plate. Diego Burgueno had an RBI single in the frame, Miller had a single and Ramos blasted a two-run double.
Zakahi (2-1) picked up his second victory of the year on the mound in the opener. He pitched six full innings, giving up just one earned run and six hits along the way. He also fanned nine Wolfpack batters while walking only one.
Wapato 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 -2 7 1
S'side 0 0 3 1 1 2 x -7 13 4
WP-Zakahi (2-1), LP-Ibarra.
Ibarra & Garza. Zakahi, Engel (7) & Marquez. Sunnyside highlights: Zakahi 3/4, HR; Boboth 2/3; Ramos 2/4, 2 doubles; Cornelius 2/4.
Wapato 2 0 0 0 2 1 5 -10 8 0
S'side 2 0 2 0 1 0 3 -8 15 5
WP-Pitt. LP-Engel (0-3).
Pitt & Rocha. T. Briones, Boboth (4), Engel (6), Miller (7) & Marquez. Sunnysie highlights: Zakahi 3/3, 2B, HR; Boboth 4/4; Cornelius 2/4.