If it seemed you were looking into a mirror at Thursday’s Mead-Mt. Spokane baseball game after watching Tuesday’s contest, you were.
Each team won a game, the Panthers gaining a split of their season series 3-1, and the script nearly played out in identical fashion.
“We scored first two days ago and lost,” Mead coach Jason Reich said. “They scored first today and lost. Baseball’s a fun game.”
Each day teams pounced on the starting pitchers in the first inning, scoring a run, but ultimately had nothing more to show for it. The pitchers, in this case Mead’s Brandon Costello, settled in and controlled their foe until each team rallied in the middle innings and rewarded them. Oh yes, in both games the visiting team won.
Back-to-back one-out doubles by Luke Cherry and Kelly Fitzpatrick put the Wildcats (9-3) on top, but they couldn’t capitalize further and didn’t score again
Costello’s sweeping curveball, particularly coming over the top, kept Mt. Spokane hitters at bay for the most part. He gave up three doubles early, but little afterward.
“He’s had the 12-to-6 curveball the entire time he’s been here,” said Reich of his four-year varsity player. “He’d rush it, but this year it’s coming together. I knew he’d cause some problems.”
In the fourth inning, the Panthers put together three successive hits, singles by Tucker Hoch and Costello, and an RBI double by catcher Dane Crater. Crater scored on Jordan McGowan’s sacrifice fly. Hoch added insurance an inning later with an RBI squeeze bunt.
Costello did get into a rush and put two on in the bottom of the seventh. It was nail-biting time with runners at second and third, two outs and Cherry at the plate. He fouled off three pitches before going down swinging at Costello’s final, wicked curve.
“It’s just natural,” Costello said. “I didn’t throw a curveball until my high school years. I threw it and coaches said stick with it.”
Costello is making the most of his senior season.
“He’s embracing it,” Reich said. “He’s had two fabulous outings and he’s hitting the ball.”
Next up for Mead (10-2), in a tough two weeks that spanned four doubleheaders and this week’s trio against Greater Spokane League title contenders, is a game today at league leader Gonzaga Prep (11-1), an 8-4 winner over University.
“I told the guys this was going to be a challenge,” Reich said. “We had to have this game just to stay in the running.”
As Costello put it, Mead was upset with the first loss to Mt. Spokane: “We weren’t going to lose again.”