Consistent hitting and equally effective defense have carried the University baseball team since late March.
The pattern continued Tuesday when the top-seeded Titans stopped No. 2 Mt. Spokane 12-6 in the first game of a best-of-3 series to decide the District 8 3A championship at Avista Stadium.
Senior shortstop Nick Motsinger had three hits and three RBIs. U-Hi batters frequently went deep into counts and it caught up with the Wildcats’ pitching.
U-Hi (17-4) and Mt. Spokane (12-9), both already bound for regionals, square off in Game 2 on Thursday at Avista, beginning at 4. If a third game is necessary, it would be played immediately after the second.
In a loser-out game, Mt. Spokane downed Shadle Park 9-5.
University 12, Mt. Spokane 6: The Wildcats took both regular-season league games from the Titans. But from the get-go Tuesday, U-Hi put its best foot forward.
The Titans took advantage of three straight walks and a hit batter to score two runs in the first and followed with three more in the second when Motsinger had a run-scoring double and Thomas Wakem delivered a two-run single.
“It’s always competitive when we play them,” Motsinger said. “We knew it wouldn’t be easy, but we came out and played well. We kind of clutched up on a few hits. We kept plugging away and tacking on the runs.”
U-Hi coach Scott Sutherland praised his team for putting the ball in play.
“That was the main thing,” Sutherland said. “We’re not striking out and we’re getting deep into the count.”
Mt. Spokane coach Alex Schuerman lamented his team’s defense, which committed seven errors.
“Not all of our errors led to runs, but if nothing else they led to extended innings and turned the lineup over,” Schuerman said.
Mt. Spokane 9, Shadle Park 5: Alex Allard had the first of three hits with a two-run double in the first inning as the Wildcats got out quickly.
Then Mt. Spokane batted around in the second, scoring four more runs. The big hit came on a bases-clearing triple from Carson Blumenthal.
That’s all the runs that left-handed junior starter Kelly Fitzpatrick needed. He scattered nine hits while striking out seven and walking just two.
Shadle Park (12-9), which swept the Wildcats in league, had a chance to tighten things up in the fifth. Blake Phebus knocked in a run with a double and another scored on an error, pulling Shadle within 6-4.
District 7 2A
West Valley 11, Medical Lake 7: The Eagles (8-12), behind a two-run homer from Knight Johnson, topped the Cardinals (9-12) in a loser-out game.
West Valley goes to No. 1 seed Pullman (14-4) today.
Every player for WV had at least one hit.
East Valley 4, Cheney 3: Alec Baker’s sacrifice fly in the seventh lifted the Knights (6-14) to the upset over the Blackhawks (14-7) in a loser-out game.
EV travels to No. 2 Clarkston (15-5) today.
District 7 1A
Chewelah 11, Newport 0: Nick Naccarato tossed a one-hitter for the Cougars (15-7) in the loser-out win over the Grizzlies (4-13).
The Cougars take on top-seeded Lakeside (12-5) today.
Colville 7, Riverside 3: Cody Thew went 3 for 4 as the Indians (15-5) held off the Rams (3-15) in a loser-out game.
Colville meets No. 2 Freeman (11-5) at Gonzaga Prep today.