A doubleheader sweep of the Prosser Mustangs this past Saturday has put the Sunnyside High School baseball team on the verge of qualifying for this year's District playoffs.
The only thing that would keep the Grizzlies (3-7) from advancing to the postseason would be dropping both of this coming Tuesday's games at Hanford, coupled with Wapato (1-9) sweeping a twin bill against Ellensburg.
"With high school baseball anything can happen," said Sunnyside Coach Dave Martinez. But he quickly added he likes his team's chances.
The two Hanford pitchers Martinez thinks his club will be facing this Tuesday are hurlers his Grizzlies saw last season. Sunnyside had success last year against them, and Martinez sees no reason his Grizzlies can't come through again.
"We control our own destiny," he said, explaining that he'll go with the same battery that he used against Prosser this past Saturday.
In the first game against the Mustangs, Martinez opted to start his ace-senior Joel Zakahi. Already signed to play baseball for Grace College, Zakahi (3-1) picked up the win in Sunnyside's 4-0 shutout of Prosser. Zakahi pitched the first five innings, yielding just two hits while fanning four. Middle reliever Cole Boboth replaced Zakahi in the sixth and preserved the shutout by allowing just one baserunner to get aboard. That set up closer Ryan Engel's appearance in the seventh, who notched a save with his one inning of shutout work from the mound.
Sunnyside plated all four of its runs in the first game in the bottom of the fourth. Zakahi started the rally by singling, but he was erased when he tried advancing to third on a single by Lucas Ramos. Timmy Briones lashed the third straight single of the inning, but Ramos then got picked at third for the second out of the frame.
Prosser could have ended the inning when Zach Marquez next came to the plate, but the Mustangs committed an error, their only miscue of the game, and Marquez was aboard. Sunnyside then reloaded the bases when Leighty hit Diego Burgueno with a pitch.
A wild pitch followed, which allowed Briones to race home with the first run of the game. Nathan Cornelius made it a 2-0 game by singling in Marquez, and Gibby Brones then put the icing on the cake when he delivered a two-run single to center field.
Marquez was the lone Grizzly to have a multi-hit game in the opener, going 2-for-3 at the plate. He had a single in the second inning and a bunt single in the sixth.
In Saturday's nightcap, a 6-2 decision that went Sunnyside's way, Boboth was the only Sunnyside player to have more than one hit. He was 2-for-4, both hits triples.
The Grizzlies forged a 2-0 first inning lead on Prosser the second game, with Gibby Briones' ringing double the only hit of the frame. Sunnyside did, though, take advantage of one Prosser error, two wild pitches and a passed ball to plate the two first inning runs.
The 'Stangs came back with single runs in both the second and third innings to tie things up at 2-all, but Sunnyside took control in the bottom half of the fifth with a three-run burst. Boboth pushed in the first run of the inning with a triple, and Zakahi and Timmy Briones added RBI singles to account for the two other scores.
Boboth (2-2) picked up the second game win pitching in relief. He replaced the younger Briones iin the fifth inning and lasted through the top of the seventh, when B.J. Miller was brought in to mop up the pitching chores.
Sunnyside's defensive gem of the game came in the top of the seventh, with Prosser threatening. With two men aboard, a Mustang batter cracked a double to right. The elder Briones fielded the ball and relayed it to the second baseman Boboth, who in turn fired a shot to the plate, where Marquez tagged out the runner trying to score.
"We've practiced and practiced that relay," said Martinez. "The kids executed it to perfection Saturday."
Pros. 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -0 3 1
S'side 0 0 0 4 0 0 x -4 6 1
WP-Zakahi (3-1). LP-Ruiz.
Ruiz, Leighty (4), O'Brien (5), Nichols (6) and Starkey. Zakahi, Boboth (6), Engel (7) and Marquez. Sunnyside highlights: Marquez 2/3.
Pros. 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 -2 5 3
S'side 2 0 0 0 3 1 x -6 8 3
WP-Boboth (2-2). LP-O'Brien.
Leighty, O'Brien (4),Nichols (5) and Starkey. G. Briones, Boboth (5), Miller (7) and Marquez. Sunnyside highlights: Boboth 2/4, (2) 3B.