Mead baseball coach Jason Reich didn’t care how sizeable the numbers appeared on the Avista Stadium scoreboard Wednesday.
What mattered most to Reich is his Panthers had one more run than the Gonzaga Prep Bullpups.
On the verge of sending the Bullpups home early, leading 16-6 going into the bottom of the fifth inning, Mead had to hold on for an 18-17 decision in the District 8 4A tournament.
Mead (12-8) earned a regional berth with the win and a date Friday against top-seeded Ferris (17-2) to decide the district championship. First pitch is at 7.
In a loser-out game to decide a third regional berth Friday, Gonzaga Prep (14-8) faces Central Valley (8-12) at 4.
Mead 18, Gonzaga Prep 17: The Panthers scored what proved to be the winning run in the sixth on an error moments after Skyler Lookabill drove in a fourth run with a double.
Then the Panthers had to hang on for dear life. G-Prep sent nine batters to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, scoring five. The Bullpups stranded the potential tying run at third base when reliever Paul Miller, Mead’s usual starting shortstop, got the final out on a strikeout.
“We just needed all the runs we could get,” said Mead sophomore catcher Dane Crater, who had three hits and five RBIs. “We just battled. All we had to do was be one run better.”
Crater has hit the ball hard the last three weeks, and he had two doubles and triple Wednesday.
“I’ve been hitting a lot every weekend,” Crater said. “Every chance I get to hit I make the most of it. I don’t fool around.”
The teams combined for 35 runs, 31 hits and 11 errors.
“That was one heavyweight bout, wasn’t it?” Reich asked. “We can put some runs up and they did, too. We knew no lead is safe in high school playoff baseball. Paul really stepped up. We stretched him a little bit. He’s a one- or two-inning guy and he ended up having to go into a third (inning). He was a little tired, but he’s a competitor.”
Connor Slater led G-Prep, finishing with two hits, including a three-run homer, and four RBIs.
Central Valley 10, Rogers 0: Bears pitchers Jacob Hochberg and Zach Hanson, both left-handers, combined on a two-hitter as CV eliminated the Pirates (5-18) in five innings.
Hanson relieved Hochberg in the third inning and didn’t allow a hit, getting the Pirates out in order three straight innings.
In the fifth, CV sent eight to the plate. Rogers walked the first three batters and then hit the fourth. A fourth walk brought in another run and then Ryan Leone and Cody Cousins had back-to-back two-run singles to end the game.
District 7 2A
Pullman 20, West Valley 10: The top-seeded Greyhounds (15-5) put together an eight-run fourth inning to pull away from the visiting Eagles (8-13).
Nick Scourey had a two-run homer and Matt Peterson was 3 for 4 with five RBIs for WV.
Pullman takes on Clarkston (16-5) in the title game at Avista Stadium at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Clarkston 14, East Valley 0: The Bantams overwhelmed the visiting Knights (6-15).
EV meets WV in a loser-out game at Avista at 10 a.m. Saturday.
District 7 1A
Chewelah 5, Lakeside 4: The visiting Cougars (16-7) upset the top-seeded Eagles (12-6), using a third-inning error to score three runs.
Chewelah starting pitcher Caleb Wright took a three-hitter into the seventh.
Freeman 15, Colville 8: The second-seeded Scotties (12-5) used an 11-run third inning to put away the visiting Indians (15-6).
Freeman takes on Chewelah at Lakeside in the district final at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Mitch Vander Linden led Freeman by going 3 for 4 with five RBIs, including a two-run homer.
Colville goes to Lakeside in a loser-out game at 10 a.m. Saturday.