RICHLAND - Game, set, match!
The sun set on the Grizzlies' 2006 season last night, as the Hanford High School baseball team claimed a 5-2 decision over Sunnyside in a loser-out, first-round Regional tournament game.
It's the second consecutive year Sunnyside ended its season in a first-round Regional playoff contest. The Grizzlies saw their season come to a close last year against East Valley of Spokane.
Sunnyside, swept twice by the Falcons last week to close out regular season play, was primed to avenge those two losses in yesterday's postseason contest.
"When we left Hanford last week the kids wanted another shot at them," said Sunnyside Coach Dave Martinez. "It left a sour taste in their mouths."
Tuesday afternoon, his Grizzlies appeared up to the challenge of exacting their revenge, as they built a 2-0 lead on the Falcons through the first three innings.
Sunnyside grabbed a 1-0 lead in its first at-bat. Sophomore Gibby Briones got the ball rolling by drawing a leadoff walk. He was sacrificed to second on a bunt laid down by Cole Boboth, but scampered to third when Hanford committed an error on the play. Senior Joel Zakahi then lifted a sac fly to left, giving the speedster Briones plenty of time to race home with the first run of the game.
The Grizzlies upped their advantage to 2-0 in the top of the third. Boboth singled his way aboard and promptly stole second, racing home when Lucas Ramos lashed a two-out single.
Hanford countered in its half of the fourth, tying the game at 2-2 on a double by Ryan King.
The Falcons plated the go-ahead run in the fifth, adding two insurance tallies in the sixth on a two-run homer off the bat of King.
Down 5-2 heading into their last at-bat in the top of the seventh, the Grizzlies weren't quite ready to roll over and play dead. Two hard singles by Timmy Briones and Ryan Engel to open the inning brought the tying run to the plate, but a deep fly to the outfield and a game ending double play got the Falcons out of the jam.
"The kids battled hard all the way through," Martinez said of his club (9-13-1).
Pitching-wise, Derek Friedel went the distance for Hanford. He scattered six hits while fanning five. For Sunnyside, Zakahi (3-3) pitched the first five innings. He absorbed the loss, despite allowing just six hits and three runs.
S'side 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 -2 6 1
Han. 0 0 0 2 1 2 x -5 8 1
WP-Friedel. LP-Zakahi (3-3).
Zakahi, G. Briones (6) and Marquez. Friedel and Ruane. Sunnyside highlights: Engel 2/3. Hanford highlights: King 2/3, 2B, HR; Johnson 2/4 (2) 2B; Brown 2/4.