A gutsy, workman-like pitching performance from Wyatt Hoff, coupled with a seven-run rally in the next to the last inning propelled the Sunnyside Christian Knights to a 9-7 victory over the Lyle/Wishram Cougars last Saturday morning.
The win came in both teams' Greater Columbia 1B League opener.
The visiting Cougs regrouped in game two to earn a doubleheader split, coming out on top 11-5 in the twin bill finale.
The Knights' backs were up against the wall in the opener, trailing Lyle/Wishram by a 7-2 count heading into the bottom of the sixth. Sunnyside Christian scrapped its way back into the contest, though, pulling ahead 9-7 and then making the two-run cushion stand up in the final frame.
The sixth inning explosion that brought the Knights from behind was aided in part by five base-on-balls, courtesy of James Mills, who went the distance atop the mound for Lyle/Wishram.
The come-from-behind rally started with Brandon Broersma drawing the first of the five walks. Following a groundout off the bat of Jackson Haak, which pushed Broersma to second, Alex Brouwer and C.J. Dalrymple coaxed walks off Mills to load the bags. Matt DeGroot then worked another walk off Mills, which pushed in the first run of the inning. Following a strikeout, one of eight Mills recorded in the game, Brouwer scooted home from third on a passed ball that drew Sunnyside Christian to within 7-4 of the Cougs. The Knights reloaded the bases on yet another walk, this one to Brandon Moore.
That brought up Brant Bosma. He delivered in a big way, sizzling a shot over the right fielder's head, his second hit of the game. Two runners scored on the double, pulling the Knights to within 7-6.
With two men on the bases and his club trailing by one, the biggest hit of the game was then ripped up the gut by Drew Puterbaugh - a worm burning double - plating the tying and go-ahead scores. Puterbaugh added an insurance score for Sunnyside Christian by stealing third and racing home when the catcher overthrew third.
Hoff, who got roughed up a bit over the course of the game by yielding 10 hits, three walks and hitting three batters, returned to the pitching rubber in the top of the seventh and proceeded to turn in his strongest inning of work. He induced two harmless grounders against the first two batters he faced in the last inning, then got ahead of the next hitter, only to plunk him with a pitch. Undaunted, Hoff (2-2) got the final out, and the win, when the batter fouled off a weak fly in foul territory just off the third base bag.
Lyle/Wishram did most of its damage in the first game in the third and sixth innings. The Cougars took advantage of two errors in the top of the third to plate two scores, and banged out four hits in the sixth, which plated three runs.
The pitcher, Mills, as well as Ricky Wolf, Dustin Much and Travis Armor each had two hits for the Cougars in the opener.
In Saturday's nightcap, Lyle/Wishram pushed six runs across the dish through the top of the fifth to forge a 6-1 lead.
The Knights, like they did in game one, made a charge, however. In the home half of the fifth Sunnyside Christian rallied with four runs to make it a one-run game. Moore and Puterbaugh both had singles to open the frame, then two outs later Broersma crunched a two-run double. Haak, Dalrymple and Matt Moore followed with singles to account for the final two runs.
The Cougars retook control with a two-run uprising in the sixth and applied the icing to the cake with another three runs in the seventh, which accounted for the final 11-5 score.
Wolf and Much each had two hits in the closing game for the winners.
Dalrymple and Brandon Moore came through with two hits each in the losing cause, while Puterbaugh went 3-for-4, giving the Sunnyside Christian catcher a 5-for-7 performance at the plate for the day.
The Knights (1-1, 3-6) are scheduled to play a non-league doubleheader at Zillah tomorrow (Tuesday) against the Leopards JV.