Cheney 8-2 in last 10 games, given league-leading Shadle only losses
Mathematically at least the Cheney AA SummerHawks didn’t have a chance to catch Shadle Park atop the Spokane American Legion baseball National League standings.
So if nothing else they wanted to send a message.
Their split in games played last Wednesday night at Al K. Jackson Field with a 3-0 win followed by an 8-0 loss might have done just that. Shadle, 15-2, has both its losses at the hands of the SummerHawks who go into playoffs this week winning eight of their last 10.
Cheney (11-7) completed league play with a dominating 8-1 win over the North Central Wolfpack (2-13) at the Ballpark in Cheney Saturday. They completed regular season play with a game at Medical Lake Sunday night.
In that game Josh Arthur’s two-run home run in the bottom of the second capped a three-run inning and pushed Cheney’s lead to 6-0 and the SummerHawks were never challenged.
“Yeah, Josh’s got some pop,” interim American Legion and future Cheney High head coach Mike Cagle said. By design, Cagle took over from Randy Elam following play in the Woodbat Classic.
Bubba Smith was on third when Arthur crushed a 1-2 pitch to straightaway center.
“He drives the ball to the right side very well,” Cagle said. “He’s a big strong kid and he’s one of those guys when you throw it to him in the cage, it just has a different sound to it when he hits the ball.”
Arthur, Cagle said, “Is surprisingly agile for a big guy.” Arthur’s hit was the lone one he had, but it drove in a pair of runs. Smith, Chance Gleave , Connor Pratt and Kyle Barsness each had a pair of hits with Smith, Gleave and Shane Hammel each getting doubles.
Pitching was solid Saturday, and earlier in the week against Shadle – in one game at least.
“Our pitchers have really picked it up,” Cagle said. Kyle Jones started, got relief help from Gleave and the two combined for just two walks and 10 strikeouts.
Jones, who is double-rostered on Cheney A-league team, is what Cagle described as “Pretty much a utility guy; he pitches and swings it pretty good.” He’s in a good situation where he plays on both teams and contributes a lot when he plays up.
And defense was pretty solid too, despite a pair of errors. “We turned a double-play up the middle, our second baseman Chance Gleave just did a quick, exchange over to Bubba (Smith) at shortstop and a quick relay to first and Josh (Arthur) pulled it out of the dirt,” Cagle said.
“That kind of stuff, that’s what wins baseball games by not losing games,” Cagle said.
“Baseball’s won by playing catch,” Cagle said. “Throw the ball, catch the ball, throw strikes and you win a lot of baseball games.”
That’s exactly what Cheney’s done in two of the last three games, Cagle said.
After the SummerHawks had command of the first game last Wednesday night in a 3-0 win, some of those fundamentals Cagle spoke of seemed to not be part of the league leader’s 8-0 win in the nightcap at Al K. Jackson Field.
“We won the first against Shadle 3-0,” Elam said. “Pratt threw an absolute gem, a two-hit shutout, two walks, eight strikeouts.”
Arthur had a pair of hits and three RBIs. “It was a fantastic effort by the boys, especially coming off the rough days we had at the tourney, I’m very proud of them,” Elam, now a part time assistant coach said.
“Too many extra bases, extra base runners,” Cagle explained. “We didn’t manage the running game very well; we just didn’t get the outs.”
Barsness had Cheney’s only hit. “Too many walks by our pitchers and they made us pay,” Elam said.
Postseason pairings still have yet to be determined. The AA Tournament began Wednesday, July 17 with games at Jackson Field through July 19. After that, championship games shift to Gonzaga Prep Saturday, July 20 and Sunday, July 21.
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.