Photo courtesy of Tammy Bangs
The Sunnyside Christian Knights pose with their District 5/6 championship trophy this past Saturday. Team members include (back row L-R) Coach Tyler Alseth , Ryan Roedel, Ryan Bangs, Ian Heffron, Brant Bosma, Justin Faber, Ryan Groeneweg, Reid Benjert, Asst. Coach Jaime Sarmiento, Blake VanBelle and Billy VanWingerden; (front L-R) Luke Wavrin, Adrian Heffron, Brandon Moore, Wyatt Hoff, Josh Stein and David Ripplinger.
KITTITAS – Sunnyside Christian High School is no stranger when it comes to qualifying to play at State tournaments. In basketball, that is, as the Knights have captured eight State titles in the last two decades.
Sunnyside Christian’s baseball team, however, has never made it to a State tourney. That is, until now.
This past weekend the Knights stormed past both Pateros and Soap Lake to lay claim to the District 5/6 title. The two victories give Sunnyside Christian one of the eight berths into this year’s Class 1B State tournament.
The Knights (17-4) will open State tourney play on Saturday, May 24, at Medical Lake. Their quarter-final round opponent in the loser-out 1 p.m. contest will be Republic.
The other quarter-final match-up at Medical Lake, scheduled for 10 a.m., has Colton taking on Liberty Christian.
A victory over Republic will send Sunnyside Christian into the State semi-finals against the winner of the Colton/Liberty Christian game. The semi-final contest will get underway at approximately 5 p.m.
“We haven’t been here before, so it will be one game at a time,” said third-year SCHS Coach Tyler Alseth.
That was the Knights’ strategy this past Saturday. Their District tourney opener against the Pateros Billy Goats was a loser-out affair.
“We knew we had to have that one, so it didn’t make any sense to look ahead,” Alseth said.
Alseth sent his ace to the mound, senior Wyatt Hoff. Unbeaten this season, Hoff delivered big time.
Scattering nine hits while fanning nine and walking only one, Hoff went the distance and shut down Pateros by a 9-3 score.
“Even with giving up the nine hits, Wyatt never really got into any trouble,” said Alseth. “None of Pateros’ hits were bunched together. There were only two innings, in the second and seventh, when Pateros got two hits off him. The other five innings, Wyatt only allowed one hit.”
It also didn’t hurt that Hoff (8-0) got some rock solid defensive play behind him.
One of the more spectacular plays came in the top of the second. With runners on first and second with two outs, a Pateros hitter crunched a drive into one of the outfield gaps. Center fielder Luke Wavrin chased the ball down and hit his cut-off man, first baseman Brant Bosma. He wheeled and delivered a pinpoint throw to catcher Ryan Bangs, who put the tag on the first base runner for the final out of the inning.
The first baseman Bosma also saved a run in the top of the third, keeping a base runner on third with an acrobatic dive to his left while snagging a roped shot down the line that had extra bases written all over it.
As it turned out, the Knights scored all the runs they would need against the Billy Goats in their first at-bat.
Wavrin opened the bottom of the first by beating out an infield grounder. Hoff then opened the flood gates by lashing a triple off the center field wall. Bosma followed with a two-run homer. After Brandon Moore came up with the Knights’ fourth consecutive hit, a single, freshman Justin Faber stroked a run-scoring double to give Sunnyside Christian a 4-0 lead.
The Knights added two more scores in the bottom of the fourth, plating three insurance runs in the sixth to account for the final 9-3 score.
The freshman Faber finished 3-for-3 in Saturday’s opening game. Hoff, 2-for-3 at the plate, collected three RBI total thanks to a two-run single in the fourth. Moore, besides his first inning single, had a two-run double in the sixth.
In Saturday’s second game against Soap Lake, to determine seeding into the State tourney, the Knights walked off with a dominating 12-4 victory.
Sunnyside Christian managed just eight hits in that contest – four of them coming from Ian Heffron (2-for-3 with 3 RBI) and No. 9 hitter Josh Stein (2-for-4, 3 RBI).
Soap Lake forged an early 3-0 lead against the Knights, those runs coming in the bottom of the first, but could only manage one more score the rest of the way.
Bosma opened the game on the mound for the Knights, but after yielding two walks and two singles he was quickly pulled. Alseth brought in Moore, who went the rest of the way and improved his pitching record on the season to 5-2. Moore only gave up six hits in his six-plus innings of work.
The Knights turned three double plays behind Moore, including a stellar snag of a line drive by third baseman Billy Van Wingerden, who then doubled off the runner at first.
After falling behind 3-0, Sunnyside Christian cut into Soap Lake’s lead with single tallies in both the second and third innings. Stein drew a bases loaded walk in the second, and Bosma pounded an RBI triple in the third.
The Knights took the lead for good with a two-out, four-run uprising in the top of the fourth. Wavrin beat out an infield chopper to start the rally. Following a pair of walks that loaded the bases, Moore fouled off four or five 3-2 count pitches before getting plunked with a pitch. Heffron then stepped to the plate and cleared the bases with a triple.
In the fifth, when the Knights tacked on another three runs, Stein’s two-run single was the big blow in the inning.
Sunnyside Christian, for good measure, plated three more runs in the sixth and seventh frames.
“The team really stepped up last Saturday at District…pitching-wise, solid defense and some timely hitting,” said Alseth.
“Now we’ll see what happens at State.”