Gonzaga Prep had cruised through the Greater Spokane League, outscoring the bottom five teams in league 103-13 for a 10-0 record.
Now things get serious as Thursday night’s game at Mt. Spokane bore out.
The Bullpups faltered as they began the tough stretch run against three teams that share second place, plus fifth-place University.
The Wildcats stunned them 2-0 as Garrett Hoffnagle held Prep hitless for six innings with the packing of its defense and an offense that ran its foe ragged.
“We said from Day 1 we’d put some pressure on them,” said Wildcats coach coach Alex Schuerman, who put the game in motion in the third inning, even attempting to steal home. Connor Cantu’s single to right following a perfectly placed bunt scored the first run. The second was unearned in the fifth.
Defensively, the Wildcats had a diving stop by first baseman Blake Macdonald ranging to his right and a huge layout catch in right field by Jordan Fitzpatrick.
Their series is set to conclude today. Next up for the Bulldogs is Mead for two, then U-Hi’s Titans, and they end the year against Ferris (8-2).
“We’ve not been challenged a whole lot,” G-Prep coach Brian Munhall said. “We need to be pushed, battle adversity and make the big hit. We’ll find out if we can.”
It didn’t start well for a team that statistically has been overwhelming. Three batters – Justin Blatner, Rhett Larson and Jordan Rathbone – started the week among the top five, hitting between .583 and .524. Three others – Steven Machtolf, Anthony Gosline and Brooks Bonham – average between .450 and .417. Zach Bonneau is at .391.
Their bats were silent against Mt. Spokane, ruining Blatner’s two-hitter.
Hopeful of return
The injury couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time. Two days before the Greater Spokane League season-openers a month ago, Mead’s Dane Crater tweaked his knee and underwent surgery to clean out cartilage damage.
He’s been out since.
“We initially pegged (his return) when he got done with surgery at four to six weeks,” coach Jason Reich said. “I know it’s killing him watching the games.”
The year before, the Panthers’ All-GSL catcher finished fourth in the GSL with a .432 batting average for the state-qualifying team, shared third in runs scored with 20, hit five doubles, a home run and drove in a dozen.
Both Crater and Reich say they hope he’ll be back by the playoffs in May.
Good week for West Valley
When West Valley (10-1) lost its first Great Northern League game to Clarkston (10-2) last week, coach Don O’Neal said the Eagles were minus some starters and probably could have won were it not for an overthrow and two-out, third-strike passed ball that allowed two runs in the 4-1 setback.
They bounced back with a 6-5 and 7-6 sweep of Cheney and a 2-1 win over Pullman.
Both Cheney games were walk-off wins. Taylor Downey hit a two-run double in the bottom of the seventh of Game 1 and Hunter Wells singled in the winner during a 3-for-3 game in the bottom of the eighth in Game 2.
The Eagles have five one-run wins in the GNL, and four have been walk-offs.
Wells pitched two more wins and has only given up two earned runs all season with a 5-1 record and one save. Three other pitchers – Dylan Steen, Thomas Dedera and Micael Taylor – are a combined 5-0.
Two-thirds of the way through the season, the Eagles (10-1) cling to a half-game lead over the Bantams (10-2). East Valley (7-3) and the Blackhawks (6-6) contend.
Twice is nice
Last week Colfax junior Patrick Jacobs pitched a no-hit five-inning victory over Springdale. It was reported as his second no-hitter this year.