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Thursday, May 24
Pierce 10, Bellevue 9 [stats]
By Ben Zimmerman - firstname.lastname@example.org
Deven Kaaiwela's sacrifice fly scored Josh Potter with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning as Pierce rallied past defending champion Bellevue for a wild, 10-9 victory in the first round of the NWAACC baseball championships early Friday morning.
The game started at 7:35 p.m Thursday but continued past midnight due to a 42-minute rain delay and a marathon of walks and hits.
The second-ranked Raiders (29-12) advanced to face Yakima Valley in a quarterfinal game at 9:35 a.m. Saturday.
No. 1 Bellevue (34-11) plays Chemeketa in a loser-out game at 4:35 p.m. Friday.
The winning rally for Pierce happened after midnight. The Raiders led 6-1 early in the game, but Bellevue scored three runs in the seventh inning and five in the eighth, taking the lead on Tyler Baumgartner's grand slam.
Trailing 9-6, Pierce scored once in the eighth inning and then added three runs in the ninth -- without the benefit of a base hit. A two-base throwing error allowed the tying runs to score.
The teams combined for 22 hits and 22 walks in 102 combined plate appearances.
Jake Fife’s trust in his stuff — and in the defense behind him — is so strong that the Yakima Valley sophomore will throw any pitch, in any count, in any situation.
That simple confidence helped carry the eighth-ranked Yaks to a crisp, 2-0 victory over Chemeketa in the opening game of the NWAACC baseball championships Thursday at David Story Field.
“A close game just makes me concentrate more and more on each pitch,” said Fife, who fired a seven-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts while dodging several late-inning bullets. “We’ve been waiting for this game ever since we knew we were coming here.
“We went two-and-out last year,” he added. “It was good to rebound.”
Fife closed out the error-prone Storm (25-20) with a big assist from second baseman Breckan Hunckle. Fife is YVC’s starting second basemen when he isn’t pitching, but he could only watch from the mound as his understudy tracked a soft liner off the bat of Zach Close with runners at second and third and one out in the top of the eighth.
Hunckle bellied out to make a back-handed catch and save at least one run. Probably two.
“He hasn’t played there every game,” Fife said. “That was huge.”
“Great play,” added Yaks co-head coach Ken Wilson. “It’s nice to see (Hunckle), a freshman, playing with confidence. That’s the first time all year I’ve seen him really enjoying himself.”
Fife’s battery mate, sophomore Will Chavarria, blocked a 1-2 curveball in the dirt on the ensuing Chemeketa at-bat to hold both runners.
“(Fife) has great confidence in Chavarria. That comes from two years of working together,” Wilson said.
Chavarria smothered another curve in the dirt with two outs in the top of the ninth, after Blake Woosley singled and Jordan Gragg walked to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. Later in the at-bat, Fife coaxed a slicing foul ball down the right field line from Storm batter Jacob Oster, and 2011 R.A. Long graduate Tyler Von Dracek swooped under it for the game-clinching catch in foul territory.
Reid Martinez plated J.R. Weigel with an RBI single in the third inning, and an error — one of four by the Storm — on Cameron Padron’s infield grounder allowed Kyle Thompson to score for a 2-0 lead.
Yakima Valley (34-14) advanced to face Pierce in a quarterfinal game at 9:35 a.m. Friday. Chemeketa plays Bellevue in a loser-out game at 4:35 p.m.