LYLE - Coach Tyler Alseth has been having a few of his friends and former players show up at Sunnyside Christian's baseball practices, giving the Knights a first-hand look at some quality pitching in the batting cage.
Those extra swings paid off in a big way yesterday, as Sunnyside Christian pounded out 37 hits enroute to sweeping a doubleheader from the Lyle/Wishram Cougars.
The twin bill sweep on Tuesday, via scores of 14-13 and 13-9, gives the Knights the Greater Columbia 1B League title. Sunnyside Christian will host Lyle/Wishram on Tuesday, May 8, with the winner moving on to the District playoffs.
In besting the Cougars on Lyle's home field yesterday, Sunnyside Christian had to go to extra innings to get the job done in the opener. Squared at 10-all through the seven innings of regulation, neither club could punch a run across the plate in the eighth frame. In the top of the ninth, though, the Knights pieced together a four-run rally, then hung on for dear life in the home half of the frame to eke out the 14-13 win.
The go-ahead rally in the final inning started with a one-out Brandon Broersma single. Following a Jackson Haak walk, Matt DeGroot singled in Broersma. One out later, Alex Brouwer plated two scores with a ringing double. Brant Bosma pushed in what proved to be the winning run by lashing an RBI single.
Lyle/Wishram, however, didn't go down without a fight. Coaxing three walks off relief pitcher Matt Moore in the bottom of the ninth, who also plunked a batter with a pitch and yielded a single, the Cougs rallied with three runs to draw within a single score.
Alseth visited the mound at that point, asking Moore if he was up to the task of closing out the game. The hurler responded in the affirmative, and proceeded to shut the door on the home club. For Moore, the win evened his record at 1-1 for the season.
Sunnyside Christian also had a big explosion in the top of the fourth, tallying four runs thanks to doubles by Bosma and Broersma, and singles off the bats of Haak and Drew Puterbaugh.
In the opening game, Puterbaugh went 4-for-6 with three RBI for the winners. Also coming through big with their bats were Bosma, 3-for-5; and Broersma, Haak and DeGroot with two hits apiece.
All told in game one, the Knights pounded out 18 hits compared to the 15 Lyle/Wishram came up with.
Game two was much like the opener, as the two teams combined for another 26 hits. Sunnyside Christian had the majority of those, however, 19 hits in all.
The clubs were knotted at 5-5, but the Knights took the lead for good in the top of the fourth with a four-run burst. Haak and Puterbaugh had doubles in the frame, and Brandon Moore and Wyatt Hoff each added singles.
The big contributors in the Knights' 13-9 victory in game two, called after five innings due to darkness, were Brouwer, 4-for-5 at the plate; Haak and Puterbaugh with three hits each; and Brandon Moore, Broersma and DeGroot with two apiece.
Brandon Moore (2-3) went the distance atop the pitching rubber to earn the victory for Sunnyside Christian. He scattered seven hits, fanned two and walked three.
Alseth said yesterday's slugfest was a "...back and forth affair.
"We went punch for punch with them," he said.
Alseth noted that he was also pleased with the defensive play of his club, as the Knights turned four double plays on the afternoon while committing just two errors in the opener and three miscues in the nightcap.