RICHLAND - Taking care of business. That means getting the job done, and the Sunnyside Grizzlies didn't do that yesterday, as they dropped both ends of a doubleheader to the Hanford Falcons.
As a result, the SHS baseball team finished conference play with a 3-9 league record. That's the same mark that both Wapato and Prosser have. And only one of the three teams will get to move on to District tournament play.
As of 6:30 a.m. this morning, it was undecided which of the three teams will be awarded the Mid-Valley League's fifth and final berth to District. Grizzly Coach Dave Martinez said Sunnyside Athletic Director Bill Daley was scheduled to meet with the other AD's later this morning to come up with a tiebreaker format.
"We're hoping it will be some kind of a playoff, something that will be decided on the field," Martinez said, adding that he's against any kind of a scenario that would feature run differentials or a quality of wins formula to figure out which team should move on.
The Grizzlies' headaches this morning could have been averted had they simply split Tuesday afternoon's twin bill at Hanford High School. The Falcons wouldn't cooperate, though, as they shut out Sunnyside by a 9-0 score in the opener and then completed the sweep with a dominating 10-4 win.
It appeared as though Sunnyside's best shot at getting a win was in game one. The Grizzlies went with their pitching ace, senior Joel Zakahi, who brought a shiny 3-1 record to the mound. His Hanford counterpart, Freedell, didn't seem to pose too big of a problem to figure out. With a fastball only in the lower 70 mph range, and having found success against him last season, the Grizzlies were confident they could get to Freedell.
It didn't work out that way.
"Freedell, he was Jamie Moyer-like," said Martinez. "Nothing overpowering, but he was spotting his pitches well and mixing in his curve and change with his fastball.
"His job was to frustrate us, and he did his job," Martinez said.
Freedell confused the Grizzlies enough that he was able to go the whole way, yielding just two hits in the seven innings while preserving the shutout.
Zakahi, on the other hand, never made it out of the second inning. The Falcons ended up plating six runs in the bottom of the second, although the two errors Sunnyside committed in the opener both came in that frame and contributed mightily to the six-run explosion.
Martinez said Zakahi only gave up two hits in the second inning and could have easily gone on, but he opted to pull his ace. "After Hanford scored the six runs, the plan was to save him and bring him back to close out the second game," said Martinez.
Turned out that Hanford took control of game two with a four-run burst in the bottom of the fourth and there was nothing for Zakahi to save in the nightcap.
Sunnyside actually took the early lead on the Falcons in the second contest, plating a pair of scores in the top of the first on a Zakahi RBI double and a run scoring single off the bat of first baseman Lucas Ramos.
The Grizzlies increased their game two lead to 3-0 with another run in the second, thanks to Cole Boboth singling in Ryan Engel, who had gotten aboard by being plunked with a pitch.
After Hanford tied the game at 3-all, with two runs in the home half of the second and a single tally in the third, the Grizzlies regained the lead in the top of the fourth, at 4-3, when Nathan Cornelius worked his way on base with a walk and Gibby Briones drove him home with a double.
Unfortunately for Sunnyside, the Falcons took solid control of the game in their half of the fourth, pushing in four runs. Hanford added three more tallies in the sixth to account for the final 10-4 score.
The four runs Hanford scored in the fourth ended up chasing Sunnyside's starting pitcher, Briones (2-2). He absorbed the loss in the process.
S'side 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -0 2 2
Han. 0 6 0 0 0 3 x -9 9 1
WP-Freedell. LP-Zakahi (3-2).
Zakahi, T. Briones (2), Miller (5) and Marquez. Freedell and Ruane. Sunnyside highlights: Burgueno 2B.
S'side 2 1 0 1 0 0 0 -4 10 3
Han. 0 2 1 4 0 3 x -10 13 1
WP-Smith. LP-G. Briones (2-2).
G. Briones, Boboth (4), Engel (6) and Marquez. Rogers, Smith (2), King (5) and Ruane. Sunnyside highlights: Ramos 2/4; G. Briones 2/4. Hanford highlights: King 3/4, (2) 3B; Smith 2/2; Johnson 2B, HR.