Shadle Park junior pitcher Nick Bettinson wasn’t about to let assistant coach Steve Hare take the ball out of his hand.
Bettinson allowed a walk to Mt. Spokane’s leadoff hitter in the seventh inning but promptly got back-to-back strikeouts. Then he threw back-to-back balls to the next batter.
That brought Hare out of the dugout.
“It seems like every time I go out and talk with him he throws strikes,” Hare said.
Sure enough, Bettinson evened the count at 2-2 before he coaxed a pop-up to end the game, giving Shadle Park a 3-1 victory Friday at Al K. Jackson Field.
“I wanted to finish it out and I knew it was my game,” the said the left-handed Bettinson, who raised his record to 4-2. “I wasn’t about ready to hand it over to the bullpen.”
It was a pitchers’ duel between Bettinson and Mt. Spokane lefty Kelly Fitzpatrick. Bettinson allowed two hits, striking out eight while surviving six walks. Fitzpatrick scattered five hits while striking out 10 and walking three.
It was a big win for Shadle (7-7), which opened the season with five straight wins but struggled through the middle of the schedule. It was a big loss for Mt. Spokane (11-4), which dropped out of a second-place tie with fellow 3A University (12-3), which topped Central Valley 10-3.
“It’s our best win by far,” Shadle Park coach Ron Brooks said. “We played very good defense. We stayed away from a big inning, we made routine plays and Nick just threw outstanding.”
Mt. Spokane took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Nate Spurbeck scored on a Spencer Mallonee groundout.
Shadle knotted the score at 1 in the fourth when the Highlanders manufactured their run. Blake Phebus singled and stole second and third. John Winkler reached on a walk. Moments later, Brooks called for a delayed double steal and it worked perfectly as Phebus scored easily.
Mt. Spokane knew the play was on, too.
“We didn’t execute our defensive play,” Mt. Spokane coach Alex Schuerman said. “We weren’t throwing straight through. Somehow we got crossed up on that and we didn’t run our play.”
Brooks said U-Hi did something similar to the Highlanders on Tuesday.
“That’s the thing about this sport is you can practice those things and work on defending those things, but it still comes down to the execution and the timing of it,” Brooks said.
The game turned in the fifth for Shadle. With runners at second and third, Phebus came to the plate.
Schuerman visited Fitzpatrick and with first base open they talked about walking Phebus.
Instead they chose to pitch to Phebus. On the next pitch, Phebus lined a single to left, scoring two runs.
“He had good swings all day on us,” Schuerman said. “I just didn’t want to give him anything good to hit. He’s a good hitter and he hit a pitch that was a little bit over the middle of the plate. It could have been a better pitch. You’ve got to tip your hat to him.”
Phebus was looking for his pitch.
“I got a curveball and just swung away,” he said. “I stayed right there in my zone and hit it.”
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