Sunnyside Christian came out on top in both a pitcher's duel and a slugfest this past Saturday.
The twin bill sweep, played on the Knights' home diamond, was the first of two Greater Columbia 1B League doubleheaders between Sunnyside Christian and the Lyle/Wishram Cougars. The only schools in the conference fielding a baseball team this spring, the two clubs will wrap up league play tomorrow (Tuesday).
By sweeping the Cougars last Saturday, Sunnyside Christian needs just a split of tomorrow's twin bill on Lyle's field to earn the league's No. 1 berth to the District playoffs, which will be staged in Kittitas on Saturday, May 11.
Game one last Saturday was a low scoring affair, as the Knights emerged with a 5-3 win.
The key to the victory was the performance of hurlers Alex Brouwer and Wyatt Hoff, who together limited the Cougs to just five hits.
Brouwer (3-0) tossed five strong innings in earning the victory, blanking the visitors in four of the five frames while fanning four along the way. Lyle did push a couple of runs across the plate in the top of the fourth. The senior took the hill in the top of the sixth, but promptly gave up a hard-smacked hit.
At that point, said SCHS Coach Tyler Alseth, Brouwer appeared to be tiring. He elected to bring in Hoff, who finished the job without surrendering a hit the rest of the way to pick up the save.
"Wyatt came in and did well," said Alseth.
Sunnyside Christian, up 3-2 through four full innings, scored the eventual winning runs in the bottom of the fifth. Brandon Moore reached base on one of two errors the Cougars committed in the opener, then stole second. Drew Puterbaugh drove in Moore with a double, and Hoff followed with a single-base rap. The second and final score of the inning crossed the plate on a Luke Wavrin single.
Of the eight hits the Knights tallied in game one, Wavrin, Puterbaugh and Brandon Broersma each had two.
The second contest Saturday proved to be a slugfest, with the final score going Sunnyside Christian's way by a 20-19 count.
The Knights had to come up with two huge rallies, though, to eke out the win.
The first nail-biter came in the bottom of the fifth, with Lyle threatening to end the game via the 10-run mercy rule. Trailing 16-6, Sunnyside Christian extended the game by pushing in seven runs.
The fifth frame rally started with Broersma drawing a walk, followed by back-to-back run-scoring singles off the bats of C.J. Dalrymple and Drew Scheenstra. After Brouwer cracked another single, Wavrin rapped an RBI single, then Brant Bosma and Brandon Moore each unloaded two-run singles to draw the Knights to within 16-13.
Lyle/Wishram eventually went up by a 19-15 count, needing just three outs in the bottom of the seventh to gain a split of the doubleheader.
Not so fast!
The Knights weren't about to fold their tent.
Sunnyside Christian opened the seventh with Hoff coaxing a walk of Travis Armour. Broersma belted a double to push Hoff to third.
Two consecutive strikeouts by Armour appeared to have the Cougars on the verge of the victory, but Scheenstra then worked a walk off the Lyle pitcher to load the bases.
Up stepped Brouwer, who quickly fell into an 0-2 count. Undeterred, Brouwer slapped a single, scoring both Hoff and Broersma to get the Knights within 19-17.
Wavrin, whom Alseth said has been coming on strong at the plate as of late, followed with a two-run single to knot the game at 19-all. In attempting to throw out the runners at the plate, Lyle allowed Wavrin to advance all the way to third. The speediest base runner the Knights have, Wavrin broke for home on the very next pitch when the ball glanced off the catcher's glove and got behind the signal caller.
"The ball was, maybe, just 10 feet behind the catcher," said Alseth. "Luke got a good break on the passed ball and made a head-first slide. It was close, but he got in there safe with the winning run."
Offensively, all told in game two for Sunnyside Christian, Broersma had the hottest bat. He went 4-for-4. Wavrin was 3-for-5 with three RBI and two doubles, Brouwer went 3-for-6, and Bosma and Dalrymple each turned in a 2-for-4 effort.
Pitching-wise in the nightcap, Hoff (2-3) earned the victory. He started the game atop the hill, was relieved in the third by Moore, but retook the mound midway through the third frame and finished out the pitching chores.
Sunnyside Christian (2-0, 7-8) will now travel to Lyle this Tuesday to close out league play.