BASEBALL: Wilder Senior opens state with walk-off win
Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Wilder Senior shortstop Brady Konopaski, left, reaches for an overthrown ball as Spokane’s Jordan Ross slips around into second base.
By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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Senior Babe Ruth State TournamentSunday's Schedule
Columbia Basin Desert Dogs vs. Lakeside Recovery, 9 a.m.
Wilder Senior vs. Wilder Junior, 11:30 a.m.
Lakeside Recovery vs. Spokane Crew, 2:30 p.m.
Columbia Basin Desert Dogs vs. Wilder Senior, 5:30 p.m.
All games at Civic Field.
“Brett had a slow start [at the plate] today, but he ended it well,” Wilder Senior manager Mike Politika said.
Wright's single scored pinch runner James Grubb and Dusty Bates.
“I was expecting first-pitch fastball but it was off-speed,” Wright said.
“And I just got a good barrel on it, and it went.
“I thought he [the first baseman] was going to catch it. I was nervous there for half a second.”
Jordan Shepherd came off the bench to open the seventh inning with a pinch-hit double to left-center field.
“Jordan's been doing that all year,” Politika said.
“He's been coming in all year and making plays, and that hit sparked us and that got us the win today.”
After Spokane starter Andrew Montemayor was pulled with one out and Shepherd at third base thanks to a sacrifice bunt by Tanner Rhodefer, Bates reached base after being hit by the third pitch from reliever Adam Paulson.
Grubb entered as a pinch runner at third for Shepherd right before the pitching change, and Bates stole second uncontested to give Wilder two runners in scoring position.
Grubb came in from third and Bates scored easily from second on Wright's game-winning single.
The seventh-inning rally helped Wilder avenge a questionable non-call that allowed Spokane to take the lead in the top of the sixth inning.
With a 1-0 lead after five innings of stellar pitching, Wilder starter Nick Johnston loaded the bases after walking two batters and hitting another, and was pulled with two outs in the sixth inning.
“Top to bottom, that's a good team, and Nick came out, did what an ace does and shut them down,” Politika said.
“He started to get tired and I just felt it was time for him to come out. He was at 95-96 pitches and I don't want to have him go over 100 and run him ragged.”
Johnston was frustrated that he couldn't slam the door on Spokane's sixth inning.
“I was disappointed in myself that I couldn't get the ball over the plate,” Johnston said.
“I had two outs, and I started walking guys, but overall I just wanted to win the game.”
Ryan Mudd entered the game for Johnston and yielded a chopper up the middle that was fielded by shortstop Brady Konopaski.
As he fielded the ball and prepared to throw to first, Konopaski's momentum carried him into the path of Spokane base runner Austin Bergdahl.
Bergdahl didn't appear to do much to get out of Konopaski's way and his presence dislodged the ball from Konopaski's hand while two Spokane runners crossed the plate.
“Ball up the middle, I kind of didn't think about it, I could have easily tagged the guy [for the force out] but I tried to throw it and just lost it,” Konopaski said.
“The guy didn't hit me, but from the umpire's point of view he couldn't tell.
“He [Bergdahl] was running right in front of me, but unless he makes contact then it's fair game.”
With the game possibly swinging on the outcome of the non-call, Politika went out to get an explanation of what the umpires witnessed.
“I thought Brady was coming across ready to make a throw to first and the guy running got in his way,” Politika said.
“I thought there was some interference of some sort out there, so I went out there to see what they saw and see what the interpretation was.
“They said they were both converging at the same time and there was no intent by the runner [to commit interference].”
The umpires took a few moments to huddle together before ultimately calling the runner safe.
Mudd then retired the next batter to get out of the inning.
He allowed a runner to reach base on a pop single to shallow left field and hit a batter in the seventh inning, before getting Bergdahl to hit into a Konopaski-to-Larsson Chapman double play to end any threat.
Konopaski accounted for Wilder's first run, slapping a single up the middle that scored Zach Withrow in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Wilder Senior 3, Spokane Crew 2
Spokane 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 — 2 4 3
Wilder Senior 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 — 3 4 1
WP- Mudd; LP- Montemayor
Spokane Crew: Montemayor 6 1/3 IP, 3 H, 4 BB, 3 R, 2 ER, K; Paulson 1 1/3, BB, H.
Wilder Senior: Johnston 5 2/3 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 4 K, 3 BB; Mudd 1 1/3 IP, H, HBP.
Spokane Crew: Peha 2-2, 3B; Montemayor 0-2, 2 RBI; Ross 1-2.
Wilder Senior: Wright 1-3, RBI; Bates 1-1, R; Konopaski 1-1, RBI; Shepherd 1-1, 2B; Grubb, R.
Last modified: July 12. 2014 5:40PM