Baseball can be a strange game. Just ask Sunnyside Christian High School junior Ryan Bangs.
Making just two tosses from the mound to the plate, Bangs came away as the winning pitcher in the Knights’ season opener yesterday against the visiting Naches Valley JV.
He also came up with the winning hit in the bottom of the last inning, down two strikes in the count with a swing that lofted the ball lazily to left…good for a run-scoring sac fly that lifted Sunnyside Christian to a come-from-behind 5-4 victory.
“An actual to goodness baseball game in our first game of the season,” quipped SCHS Coach Tyler Alseth. “All the drama you’d want in a ball game.”
Bangs was called to the mound in the top of the seventh after relief pitcher Brandon Moore, who took the hill midway through the sixth, loaded the bases by yielding a hit and two walks. Bangs’ first pitch was in the dirt, but was blocked by Brant Bosma, who had replaced Bangs behind the dish.
The second pitch Bangs delivered was roped to first. With the Naches base runners breaking hard, Sunnyside Christian’s first baseman snagged the screamer from the air, then wheeled and touched his bag before the Ranger could return to tag up. A throw to the second-base bag arrived before that runner could return to tag up, as well.
“A triple play, wow, what a way to start the season,” said Alseth. “That play, with us being down 4-2, kept us in the game.”
Sunnyside Christian opened its half of the seventh with Luke Wavrin beating out a throw to first on a third strike that was dropped and bobbled by the Naches catcher. Senior Wyatt Hoff moved Wavrin to third with a single, which was followed by an RBI double off the bat of Bosma, who finished 3-for-4 in Monday’s opener.
Trailing by only one, Moore stepped to the plate next and launched a sac fly that sent Hoff home with the tying run.
The stage for Bangs’ winning sac fly to left was set when Josh Stein and Justin Faber followed Moore to the plate and came through with a single and walk, respectively.
All told, the Knights tallied 10 hits off the two pitchers – Phelps and Lantis – that Naches utilized in Tuesday’s opener. Besides Bosma’s 3-for-4 effort, which including socking two doubles and a triple, Ian Heffron was 2-for-2 after coming into the game off the bench, and Bangs added an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth.
While Bangs (1-0) picked up the win from atop the mound, it was the senior Hoff who put in the majority of the work from the pitcher’s rubber. He was closing in on 90 pitches when he was lifted with two outs in the top of the sixth. During that stretch he only allowed three hits, fanning eight along the way while issuing four free passes.
“It was good to see Wyatt throwing strikes, especially this early in the season,” said Alseth.
The SCHS coach was just as pleased with what he saw from his game-two pitcher, Moore. In going the distance in the shortened five-inning game, called due to darkness, Moore chalked up an 8-2 win. He yielded only two hits, striking out two and walking two.
“It was a real solid outing for Brandon,” said Alseth.
All the runs Sunnyside Christian needed in the nightcap came in the bottom of the second, when the Knights were basically handed four scores. The Rangers walked four batters that frame, and coupled with a couple of passed balls and several wild pitches, Sunnyside Christian grabbed a 5-1 lead.
The only offensive fireworks the Knights managed in the second game came from Hoff, who laid down a second-inning, run-scoring squeeze bunt and ripped a double in the fourth inning; and from the freshman Faber, who smacked a two-out RBI double in the fourth, as well.
Faber shined, too, with his play at second yesterday, helping the Knights turn a pair of 6-4-3 and 5-4-3 double plays in the second game.
Sunnyside Christian returns to its home diamond this coming Saturday with a pair of scheduled games against Seattle Christian and Tri-Cities Prep.