Blackhawks rally for 5-4 GNL win in Pullman
Cheney comes up short against West Valley
Cheney High’s baseball team went 1-2 in Great Northern League action last week – with all three games decided by one run and last inning rallies.
The Blackhawks fell behind 4-2 in the first inning at Pullman (fifth, 2-8, 2-9) Tuesday as starting pitcher Tanner “Bubba” Smith struggled, allowing four runs before the first out was made. The sophomore found his groove to end the threat by striking out the side and not giving up another run the rest of the way.
Cheney clawed its way back with runs in the fourth and fifth inning to tie the game. In the top of the seventh, Sawyer Sims doubled with one out, advanced to third on Connor Netz’s bunt base hit, and scored the eventual winning run on Tanner Gamby’s single.
Alex Berman, in relief of Smith in the sixth, struck out the final two Pullman batters with bases loaded in the seventh to preserve Cheney’s 5-4 win. Berman earned the win, with Netz going 2 for 3 at the plate.
“This group of boys continues to amaze me,” Blackhawks’ manager Randy Elam said. “We got down 4-2 versus Pullman and they just found a way to win.”
The Blackhawks found themselves in similar positions Saturday in a doubleheader with West Valley, but couldn’t quite find a way to slam the door against the league-leading Eagles (9-1). Down 4-2 in their last at bat in game one, Cheney rallied for four runs and a 6-4 lead on Netz’s 2 RBI single, a bases loaded walk and Austin Harding’s RBI single.
But the Blackhawks made a couple of “uncharacteristic errors” in the Eagles final at bat, allowing them to tie the game with two runs and send it into extra innings. In the bottom of the eighth, a one-out single by West Valley’s Hunter Wells scored a runner from second to give the Eagles the 7-6 win.
Harding took the loss, relieving Sims in the sixth. Both players had two hits apiece in Cheney’s seven hit attack.
In the nightcap Cheney again found itself needing to rally in its last at bat, and again the Blackhawks responded. Tristan Flippo walked with one out and Dominic Bonilla advanced him to second with a single.
Both players reached second and third with steals, and Netz then hit a hot shot to the Eagles’ second baseman, who threw home but failed to get the sliding Flippo. Bonilla then scored on Harding’s sacrifice fly to give Cheney a 5-4 lead.
But as in game one, West Valley punched back, getting back-to-back, one-out singles followed by a 2-run double for the 6-5 win.
In a case of hard luck, Harding again took the loss, relieving Netz in the sixth. Harding had one of Cheney’s three hits, a double, with Bonilla contributing two singles.
“Again, a valiant effort by our guys,” Elam said.
Despite the two losses the Blackhawks are still in pretty good playoff shape at 6-5 in league, 6-7 overall. Cheney has games with two teams ahead of it in the standings, including Tuesday’s home match up with second-place Clarkston (9-2). The Blackhawks travel to Deer Park (1-8, 2-9) for a Saturday doubleheader with the Stags, returning home to face third-place East Valley (7-3, 8-4) next Tuesday, April 23.
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.