TACOMA – Scoring runs has not been a problem for the Gonzaga Prep Bullpups this season.
During one six-game span midway through the season, the 2013 Greater Spokane League champs scored a whopping 78 runs.
The Bullpups could have used some of that offensive mojo Saturday afternoon at Heidelberg Park in their opening-round game of the State 4A baseball tournament against Skyview. Gonzaga Prep managed just four hits and struck out 12 times against Skyview ace Ian Hamilton in a season-ending 3-1 loss.
“We’ve hit the playoff run and we’ve cooled off a little bit … we peaked a little bit too early (in the year),” Gonzaga Prep coach Brain Munhall said. “(We) left a lot of guys on base last week and left a lot on base today. That’s the difference – and punching out way too many times.”
Despite its offensive struggles, Gonzaga Prep (21-3) did score the first run of the game against Hamilton in the bottom of the third inning. Zach Bonneau bounced a two-out RBI single to left field to score Rhett Larson, who reached earlier on a throwing error.
Prep starter Justin Blatner, a Gonzaga commit, kept the Storm off the scoreboard early on, pitching out of a couple of jams. But Skyview (19-6) loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the fifth. James Brooks then lined a single up the middle, bringing home two runs.
“He got a hold of one and hit it hard,” Blatner said. “I thought I did a good job of keeping him off balance.”
It would be Blatner’s last batter, as Munhall brought in Max Graves. But Graves walked the next two hitters, eventually forcing home one more run before striking out Hamilton to end the inning.
“They got the one big hit that changed the game, and we didn’t get it,” Munhall said.
The Bullpups weren’t able to mount much of a rally from there on out. Anthony Gosline led off the bottom of the fifth with a single, but Hamilton retired the next three batters in order, striking out Bonneau and Jack Slater to end the inning.
“Credit goes to (Hamilton),” Bonneau said. “He adjusted to us toward the end and started throwing more off-speed. We didn’t have a very good approach most of the day. Overall, we didn’t swing the bat like we normally do.”
Hamilton retired the side in order in the sixth, and after allowing a two-out walk to Gosline in the bottom of the seventh, the senior struck out Jordan Rathbone to end the game.
“We hunt fastballs,” Blatner said. “For some reason today we were getting a lot of first-pitch fastballs and we would watch them. Then, on second pitch he would throw a curveball and we’d swing and miss. And then you’re down 0-2, and it’s just a hard spot to battle out of. I feel like our approach was a little off.”
Gosline had two of the Bullpups’ four hits.