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Victory falls out of the sky for Spartans
"The sky was crying, but fortune was smiling on the Spartan hardballers Thursday at Enumclaw.For the second game in a row, a fly ball that could have been caught wasn't. And this one gave the Spartans a 10-9 comeback win over defending state champion Kennedy. The win propels Bainbridge into a 2 p.m. game Saturday at Enumclaw against top-ranked Mt. Vernon.It was a roller-coaster ride for the fans, as Bainbridge first led, then appeared to collapse, then rallied for five runs in the bottom of the seventh. The winning two-out hit came not from one of the established stars, but from freshman Patrick Fiander in only his second varsity at-bat.This team has something special inside them, said relief pitcher Chris Shaffer, who has won both of Bainbridge's post-season games despite fighting off the flu. We never get down. We come from behind and somehow we find a way to win. With tendonitis still bothering ace lefty Jamie Hawkins, Thomas Henshaw got another start. And the Sparts tried their best to make it easy for the big right-hander, taking a 4-1 lead after one inning.Tyler Burkland and Cole Childers led off Bainbridge's first with walks, then advanced on Henshaw's sacrifice. Hawkins grounded to short, but a throwing error scored both runners and put Hawkins aboard. Then Dustin Atkinson smashed a 355-foot straightaway homer.Steady rain made for poor playing conditions, and both teams settled into the hard work of the middle innings with very little action. We went in very relaxed, coach Mike Reese said. And we came out firing. But in the middle innings, we got out of the game plan a bit. The sloppy conditions were mirrored by often-sloppy play. Henshaw kept the Lancers at bay even when his defense was not making the plays behind him.Offensively, the Spartans couldn't get anything going, except for Mike Dressler's long third-inning homer that put BHS ahead 5-1.The Lancers picked up a pair of runs in the fifth when a hit brought home two runners aboard on errors. Then in the sixth, Henshaw ran out of gas. After giving up hits to the first three Lancers, Shaffer took over.The Spartan closer wasn't sharp. Shaffer walked the first batter he faced to load the bases. He surrendered a double that scored two runners, then re-loaded the bases with another walk.The next batter rifled a shot back at Shaffer, who gloved it cleanly and got the force at home. Another single plated two more Lancers. A strikeout and flyout ended the inning, but five runs had scored, giving Kennedy an 8-5 lead.It was really tough to pitch, said Shaffer, who had a headache the whole game. There was mud over my feet, and I felt awkward. The curve ball doesn't work when it's wet and raining. It just doesn't break. The balls slip out of your hand.The Lancers picked up what looked to be an insurance run in the seventh on three Bainbridge errors, a reflection of playing conditions getting worse.It looked out of reach, Shaffer said. I didn't think I had done very well pitching.But his lead-off double got the Spartan adrenaline flowing. Burkland followed with a single, then took off for second. And when the catcher overthrew, Shaffer came flying in to score.Then Henshaw walked, putting two runners on. And when Dressler doubled to bring in both runners, Bainbridge was suddenly only one run behind with just one out.The Kennedy pitcher bore down and fanned Hawkins, leaving Bainbridge only one more out for the season.Atkinson, who could have won the game with another homer, got hit by the first pitch. Carl French filled the bases by drawing a walk on a 3-2 count with two foul balls.Then, with two out, bases full, and his team behind by one, freshman Fiander came up. On an 0-1 count, he launched a long fly to right field.When I saw the ball hit, I screamed, 'oh my god, it's a home run,' Henshaw said. We all jumped out of the dugout. Then as we watched the ball, it was, oh, no, it's a fly-ball out. But then we saw the center fielder signaling to the right field to move over, I knew we had won the game.Indeed they had. The Kennedy right fielder misplayed the ball by a good 10 yards. Two Sparts trotted home, and Bainbridge advanced to the round of eight.Was the rookie nervous? Not really, said Fiander. I wasn't thinking of anything other than I knew he would throw me a second fastball.This is a very big win for our ball club, Reese said. We have a very resilient and positive group of young ballplayers...They really stick together."