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Colton clubs ACH for State 1B baseball title

ELLENSBURG – As much as the coaching staff didn’t want to focus on the obvious, consider Colton’s victory a bit of payback for the last couple of years.

The Wildcats blitzed Almira/Coulee-Hartline for five runs in the first two innings and rode the cannon of Josh Straughan’s arm for the 11-1 victory in Saturday’s State 1B baseball final.

ACH is not new to Colton, having defeated the Wildcats in semifinals last year and the state final in 2010. ACH also bested the Wildcats in the 2011 1B basketball consolations.

“You couldn’t help but acknowledge it,” Colton head coach Pat Doumit said. “My worry was our guys were going to build this game up too much and turn ACH into this big monster. They didn’t, though.”

The Wildcats wasted no time in putting runs on the board, taking advantage of three Warriors errors in the first inning. Austin Meyer got on base after an error and moved to second on a wild pitch before scoring on Jake Straughan’s RBI single. Later, with the bases loaded, Straughan went home on a balk and Josh Straughan made it 3-0 on Justin Meyer’s single.

Dustin Devorak made it 4-0 when ACH pitcher Drew Isaak’s pickoff attempt to third base sailed high in the second. Minutes later, Jake Straughan came home on older brother Josh’s single.

As consistent as Josh Straughan was on offense, he was downright dominant on the mound. Playing in his last game as a Colton Wildcat, the senior fanned 10 batters and scattered three hits – two of which were in the first inning when ACH stranded three runners – in his complete-game win.

Straughan struck out Jake Johanson with the bases loaded in the first and struck out the side in the second inning as the Warriors couldn’t match Colton’s early offense.

“I told Josh, ‘This is your time,’” Doumit said. “All his pitches were working.”

While ACH couldn’t get things going on offense, Isaak and team settled down to hold the Wildcats in check in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

Isaak fanned two in the 1-2-3 third inning and got out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth when he forced a pop out from Jake Riedner.

But as much as ACH fought back, miscues on the base paths – Derek Isaak was caught stealing in the third and Jordan Ping was tagged out on a line drive in the fourth – and inconsistency at the plate kept the Warriors mired in a slump all game.

The Warriors came into the contest having scored 34 runs in the previous two state playoff games.

Derek Isaak opened the sixth with a triple, and scored on Tucker Matthewson’s sacrifice, for the Warriors’ lone run.

Already up 7-1 at that point, Colton added more insurance. The Wildcats roughed up Drew Isaak and reliever Ping for four more runs to make it 11-1 in the seventh.