The marquee matchup in the Greater Spokane League baseball showdown never materialized, but there was no shortage of heroes.
Evan Weaver’s two-run single in the top of the sixth inning finally erased a five-run deficit as Gonzaga Prep, behind stellar relief pitching wrapped up by Cael McKeirnan’s two-inning save, rallied to beat Mt. Spokane 7-6 on a chilly Tuesday afternoon.
It was supposed to be Prep’s Gonzaga-bound lefty Justin Blatner and Mt. Spokane’s Drew Rasmussen, who has signed with Oregon State on the mound. But Rasmussen pitched in the Wildcats’ last outing, a 4-1 win over Prep on Saturday that cut the Bullpups’ lead to one game, and was relegated to shortstop.
Blatner simply wasn’t sharp.
“He wasn’t very good,” Prep coach Brian Munhall said, adding that Blatner, who left in the fourth inning down 6-1, would be the first to affirm that without blaming an injury.
But the Bullpups (12-2, 11-1 GSL) never lost faith and bailed out their star with three unearned runs in the fifth inning and winning it with a three-run sixth.
It appeared Blake Macdonald was going to be the hero for Mt. Spokane, quickly moving from first base to pitcher in the second inning when Stephen Streltzoff struggled with his command in his first start. Macdonald was effective on the mound and had a two-run single in the four-run second for the Wildcats (10-4, 9-3).
But once Blatner was gone, lefty Ryan Byrd got three outs in the fourth, Joe Gottsch handled the fifth and McKeirnan closed it out.
“I love it,” McKeirnan said. “I love coming in like that, you kind of feel like a tough guy. … It helps that the coaches have confidence in me.”
A two-run throwing error on Rasmussen on what should have been the third out in the fifth hurt Macdonald, who tired in the sixth and left after walking in a run. Two batters later Weaver, a sophomore who has split time between JV and varsity, delivered his second game-winner in as many days.
“I was struggling early,” said Weaver, who drove in the only run in Prep’s 10-inning win over Shadle Park on Monday. “The last three at-bats (it was his sharp grounder up the middle that Rasmussen threw away) I’ve been feeling it, seeing the pitches.”
Mt. Spokane coach Alex Schuerman was disappointed but wasn’t surprised.
“We didn’t finish it off,” he said. “Give them credit, they kept pecking away, they didn’t give up. They had good at-bats all through the game.”