Kadeem Smalls, manager of the Cheney SummerHawks American Legion baseball team, knew his group would face tough competition in this year's Wood Bat Classic Tournament, July 4-6, and boy was he right.
Cheney struggled in the first day of competition, dropping a 5-1 game to Sandpoint.
In the Sandpoint game, Cheney struggled to get their bats going. Andrew Witt scored the only run for the SummerHawks in the third inning.
In their second game, Cheney again failed to get their offense going as they lost 3-0 to West Valley-Selah.
The SummerHawks fared better on the second day of the tournament, picking up an 8-4 win over Juanita Red and a 3-2 victory over Rogers in extra innings.
In the game against Juanita Red, Cheney got an early lead in the first inning after Kyle Jones hit a 2RBI single. After Juanita Red tied the game in the second, Cheney took the lead back when Witt hit an RBI double, followed by an RBI single from Connor Pratt. Jones scored on an error in the third.
The Summerhawks secured their lead in the top of the fourth after an RBI single from Chance Gleave, followed by a 2 RBI single from Cameron Marchand.
Rogers put up a better fight than Juanita Red, leading 2-0 in the third inning before Marchand hit an RBI to bring Gleave home for Cheney's first run of the game. Brannon Pederson tied the game in the bottom of the sixth after scoring a run.
In the eighth inning, the game came down to the final pitch as Pratt hit a single to bring in the winning run.
After securing third place in their pod, Cheney picked up a 2-1 win over Juanita Blue.
Juanita took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth. In the bottom of the fourth, Riley Jones scored to get Cheney on the board.
Just like in the last game, Pratt hit an RBI single to bring in Brayden Butikofer for the winning run.
Smalls said he was not only proud of his team's performance, but also the maturity they showed in tough situations, which he said will "benefit them down the road."
"At the end of the day, 3-2 is not bad," Smalls said. "We attacked our opponents we finished strong."
Smalls, who coordinated the Cheney pod during the tournament, was thankful for all of the volunteers who helped, as well as the fans who came out to cheer the home team.
The SummerHawks return to action, July 10, when they head to East Valley to face the Knights in Federal league play. Two days later, they return home for a league doubleheader against Freeman, July 12, at noon, followed by a two-game series against Medical Lake, July 13-14.
Al Stover can be reached at email@example.com.