PROSSER - Granted, they were only playing their fifth game of the season. But for the Sunnyside Christian Knights, picking up that first victory of the spring yesterday afternoon was like shedding a 220-lb. gorilla.
After nearly a five-year void of fielding a baseball team, Sunnyside Christian High School is back on the diamond. The Knights started their long, arduous journey to respectability by claiming a 6-4 win in the second game of a non-league twin bill at Prosser Tuesday.
One of the heroes in that two-run victory was a sophomore, Brandon Moore. The underclassman, after finishing off game one with a one and two-thirds inning stint on the mound, went the distance atop the hill in the nightcap. He yielded just three hits to class 2A Prosser's JV in the win, walking only two while fanning three batters.
"Brandon did a good job of keeping the ball down and getting ahead of the hitters," said Tyler Alseth, the Knights' first-year coach who's been charged with reviving Sunnyside Christian's baseball program.
Alseth also mentioned that Moore (1-1) has been working on developing a curve ball, and yesterday got several of Prosser's hitters out on their front foot with the pitch.
Moore's battery mate, catcher Drew Puterbaugh, also turned in a pretty solid effort in Tuesday's victory. Alseth said other than for a couple of stray pitches, Puterbaugh kept the ball in front of him. "And, he threw out a couple of guys trying to steal, one at second and another at third," said Alseth.
The Knights snapped a 4-all tie in the nightcap by plating the tying and winning runs in the top of the fifth. Senior Levi Puterbaugh started the game-winning rally by singling his way aboard. After Puterbaugh was replaced with pinch runner Brandon Broersma, pinch hitter Jackson Haak stepped to the plate and delivered a clutch single off Prosser's southpaw relief pitcher, which moved Broersma to third. Following a strikeout, Matt DeGroot slapped a grounder to the right side of the infield, scoring Broersma with the tying run. Haak moved to third on the throw to first that recorded the second out of the inning. Unfortunately for the Mustangs, they immediately trotted off the field, thinking there were three outs. Haak promptly raced home with the winning run.
Prosser was unable to score in the home half of the fifth. At that point, the umpires called the game due to darkness.
Sunnyside Christian forged the early lead in game two with a two-run uprising in its first at-bat. Drawing two walks off starting hurler Wyatt Tolle, both base runners came round to score...one via a Prosser error and the other with a bases loaded walk.
The Mustangs regained the lead in the bottom of the second, scoring all four of the runs they ended up with that contest.
The Knights tied it at 4-4 in the top of the third, thanks to a Drew Puterbaugh walk and a ringing triple off the center field fence that came off the bat of Wyatt Hoff.
Of the seven hits Sunnyside Christian mustered in the twin bill finale, two of them were by the pitcher Moore.
Game one yesterday was all Prosser, as the Mustangs prevailed 10-0 in the shortened six-inning affair. The game was called due to the 10-run mercy rule.
The Knights settled for four hits in the opener, but two of them were for extra bases, doubles by Hoff and Alex Brouwer. Sunnyside Christian ended up stranding eight base runners in the first contest.
The hitting star for the Mustangs in their victory was Payton Teal, who went 2-for-4 with a triple.
Hoff (0-2) absorbed the loss for the Knights, although he was relatively sharp through the first four innings, only allowing single tallies in the first, third and fourth frames. Alseth said Hoff recorded three strikeouts along the way before tiring and getting lifted from the mound in the bottom of the fifth.
Next up for Sunnyside Christian is the Connell JV. The Eagles will roll into Sunnyside on Tuesday, April 10.