Their backs against the wall and some facing the prospect of the impending end of their high school careers, Ferris baseball players summoned the necessary fortitude that had been key to a perfect football season.
Ben Goodwin, the Saxons’ quarterback last fall, belted the last of several clutch hits by Ferris on Saturday to the center-field fence with two out in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The blow scored Ben Pelle from second base, the last of five Ferris runs coming with two outs, for a 7-6 State 4A-qualifying comeback victory Saturday afternoon over visiting Moses Lake.
The win sends Ferris to Yakima’s County Stadium at 10 a.m. Saturday against Walla Walla, a 6-5 winner over Richland.
Season-long stalwarts, pitcher Spencer Ansett and catcher Ryan Krustangel, did their parts after the second inning when the Chiefs took a 4-0 lead. Rather than come apart as they had after surrendering seven first-inning runs against Walla Walla earlier in the week during a 12-0 loss, several heroes emerged.
“I thought the kids really learned from Tuesday,” coach Jim Sharkey said. “They stayed calm and got a couple of runs back. Thank God a GSL team finally scored a run.”
Big Nine teams had won three games by shutout during the opening of regional play.
But a triple by Pelle and double by Beau Bozett, back-to-back with two outs, cut the deficit in half.
It was the first of three hits by No. 9 batter Pelle, who drove in a pair of runs and score twice, including the winner.
“I just see myself as the hitter before Beau,” Pelle said. “(The pitcher) started me off with fastballs and I tripled on a 3-2 count. The next at-bats some were curveballs, but I fought them off and waited for a fastball.”
In the top of the third, shortstop Bozett made a brilliant defensive play that seemed to further inspire Ferris. He ranged deep in the hole to his right, snagged a hard grounder with a knee to the ground and his back to first base, wheeled and bounced a one-hop throw to Travis Key at first base.
“I just read it pretty well and had to get rid of it,” Bozett said. “I was lucky to get my feet under me and Travis made a nice dig.”
Key, who had three hits, and Blake Bozett put Ferris ahead 5-4 in the fourth with back-to-back hits up the middle.
After that, Ansett settled in, limiting Moses Lake to three hits over the final six innings. But he gave up a pair of runs in the fifth to lead 6-5.
Ansett then retired the last eight in a row, needing just eight pitches over the final two innings.
Ferris’ comeback featured six extra base hits, highlighted in the third when Krustangel slugged a towering home run that was still rising over the fence 361 feet away.
Pelle drove in Cody Sorensen, who had tripled to lead off the fifth, setting up Goodwin’s final straw.
“I’d seen a submarine pitcher earlier in the year, was able to see his pitches and find the release point,” Goodwin said. “I finally got a pitch I was able to hit and drive. I was due.”
In lauding the contributions and toughness of his players – some who are making their third state tournament this year – Sharkey noted that hitting one-through-nine has been a Saxons strength.
“You saw two of the better shortstops in state on display and (Beau’s) was just a great play,” Sharkey said. “Ben just figured a way and we’re in the round of 16.”