ELLENSBURG - Yesterday's 11-6 loss to Ellensburg makes this coming Saturday's doubleheader against visiting Prosser a pair of must-win games for the Sunnyside High School baseball team.
"If we're going to make the playoffs, we need both games Saturday," said Sunnyside Coach Dave Martinez.
A split of the twin bill on Saturday would force the Grizzlies into the unenviable task of sweeping their two final regular season games against Hanford next Tuesday, and even if Sunnyside did accomplish that feat, they would still only be tied with Prosser for the final berth to the District playoffs.
Simply put, said Martinez, his Grizzlies need to take care of business this Saturday when Prosser rolls into town for the 11 a.m. twin bill.
"We're looking at them as must-win games," he said.
The Grizzlies (1-7, 5-10-1) would be facing a different scenario this coming weekend had they knocked off Ellensburg Wednesday afternoon. The Bulldogs wouldn't cooperate, however, as they pounded out eight hits and took advantage of their windy home field conditions to pull out an 11-6 win.
"I'm not making excuses for our kids, but there were a lot of wind-aided balls yesterday," said Martinez. "Ellensburg is used to those kinds of conditions, we weren't."
It also didn't help that with the exception of Lucas Ramos and Zach Marquez, the Grizzlies couldn't get much of anything going when they were at the plate. Ramos, 4-for-4 on the day, and Marquez, 2-for-3, had the only Grizzly hits on the afternoon.
Oddly, though, Ramos and Marquez's efforts were almost enough to get the job done. Had it not been for a four-run explosion by Ellensburg in the bottom of the third, Sunnyside would have been right there at the end.
After the Bulldogs forged a 1-0 first inning lead, Sunnyside jumped into the fray by plating a pair of runs in the top of the second. A single by Ramos got the Grizzly rally started, then Nathan Cornelius got aboard on the first of two errors Ellensburg committed in the game. The Bulldog miscue proved costly, as Marquez stepped to the dish and slapped a double, scoring both Ramos and Cornelius.
Ellensburg regained the lead at 3-2 with two runs of its own in the home half of the second, but again the Grizzlies countered, tying the contest at 3-all by pushing a run across the plate in the top of the third. After walks by Gibby Briones and Joel Zakahi, Ramos lashed a hot-shot grounder deep into an infield hole. A Bulldog infielder stabbed the ball and whizzed a quick throw to first, but the rumbling, hefty Ramos hustled down the line and beat the ball to the bag. In the process, Briones raced home with the tying run.
The Bulldogs basically socked the game away, though, by pushing in four runs in the bottom of the third and another two in the fourth, to go up 9-3 on Sunnyside.
The Grizzlies made one last push at Ellensburg in the top of the fifth. After loading the bases via an error, a walk and a hit batsman, Ramos socked a two-run double. After another walk drawn by Cornelius to reload the bases, Diego Burgueno got Sunnyside to within 9-6 by lofting a sacrifice fly.
Ellensburg closed out the scoring with two runs in the bottom of the fifth to account for the final 11-6 score.
The Bulldogs, with the win, secured the third place spot in the Mid-Valley League standings, behind Selah and West Valley.
S'side 0 2 1 0 3 0 0 -6 6 4
E'burg 1 2 4 2 2 0 x -11 8 2
WP-Cooper. LP-G. Briones (2-1).
G. Briones, Boboth (3), Zakahi (4) and Marquez. Cooper, Steel (5) and Kopczynski. Sunnyside highlights: Ramos 4/4, Marquez 2/3. Ellensburg highlights: Murphy 4/5, Kopczynski 2/5.