With summer-like weather Tuesday, the Shadle Park Highlanders swung hot bats early and often and pounded out a 12-8 win over Lewis and Clark at Avista Stadium.
Longtime Shadle Park coach Ron Brooks kept pitcher Griffin Bacon in the game even after the Tigers rallied to within a run in the third inning and scored four times in the sixth inning to get within striking distance.
Though he gave up eight runs, of which not all were earned, Bacon shut down the Tigers in the bottom of the seventh to preserve the big Greater Spokane League victory.
“Bacon is just a workhorse,” Brooks said. “He wants the ball and he throws strikes.”
Bacon (4-0) said Brooks let him know after the sixth inning, when Lewis and Clark closed to within four runs, that Bacon had a short leash in the seventh. The junior pitcher then induced a foul-pop out to first base, had a deep fly caught in right field and got his fourth strike out to end the Tigers’ threat.
“In the sixth inning, I gave (Brooks) the eye, letting him know I could finish this out,” Bacon said. “It’s nice to pitch with the lead.”
The Highlanders (5-8, 5-7 GSL) gave Bacon that lead in the first inning when Dalen Hainline doubled to center on a ball mishandled by the outfielder to score Justin Solt. Kodee Riendeau then singled to score Hainline.
But the Tigers (8-6, 7-5 GSL) immediately responded. Starting pitcher Dawson Pate doubled to left center to score Camden Bendickson and Nick Nystrom to tie the game in the bottom of the first.
The Shadle Park bats lit up again in the third inning. Luke Krotzer blasted a line drive into to the gap in right center and took a face plant into third base for a triple that scored Hainline and Riendeau to make it 4-2 Highlanders.
“When I saw the hit, I thought ‘stand-up double.’ I didn’t know (Krotzer) could run that fast,” Bacon said laughing. “He was hauling. That fires me up, especially early in the game like that.”
Dalton Dawson immediately followed with a single to score Krotzer to make it 5-2 Highlanders.
But the Tigers clawed back. Nystrom singled to score Cole Beemer and Jermaine Ducham hit a grounder in which he was safe at first on a throwing error. That allowed Nystrom to score to make it 5-4 Shadle Park.
Tigers coach Steve Bennett replaced Dawson Pate with Camryn Schon and the Highlanders’ bats came alive.
Jadan Vandervert, Solt, Hainline, Riendeau, Dalton Dawson and Donovan Meadows all knocked in runs to give Shadle Park a 12-4 lead.
The Tigers got a run in the bottom of the fifth and three in the bottom of the sixth to make it 12-8, but that’s how it ended.
“We put ourselves in a little bit of a spot getting behind hitters,” Bennett said, “and the Shadle guys just drove the ball all over the yard. But I’m largely proud of the way we competed. We just need to make some plays on defense to get out of innings.”