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Spartans rally from first loss to win three games, take fourth at state
They certainly lived up to their names.
The Titans from University High in Spokane put together a colossal comeback to steal the first game in the 3A state fastpitch championships against the Bainbridge Spartans.
University came back from a four-run deficit in the fifth inning, then smacked the winning run in the bottom of the seventh to break a 10-all tie.
The heart-stopping finish was even a surprise to the Titans.
Outfielder Ryelynn Mendoza slammed the end of her bat to the ground after hitting what she thought was a third strike for what would have been the final out in regulation, only to be called back to the plate after it was pointed out she had just two strikes against her in the count.
She then drilled a shot to center field to score the winning run.
The 11-10 loss knocked Bainbridge into the consolation bracket, where they then easily won the next two games Friday and another Saturday to get a chance at a trophy in the matchup for third and fourth places.
“It was a great game,” said Spartan Coach Liz McCloskey.
“We talked about it all this week, that it was going to come down to a mistake made or just who was on top at the end,” she said.
“Honestly, I think, offensively we matched them very well,” McCloskey said of the Titans.
“Unfortunately, we had a 9-5 lead and we just couldn’t hold them. We made too many mistakes defensively and one inning is what hurt us,” she said.
At the start, it looked like Bainbridge would blow past University in the first round. Bainbridge jumped out to 3-0 in the top of the first.
University answered with four runs of their own, however, to take a 4-3 lead heading into the second.
But the Titan lead didn’t last long.
The Spartans heaped another three runs onto home plate, and held University scoreless in the inning.
The Titans eked out a one-run third, and the Spartans looked like they were ready to put the game away with three more runs in the fourth inning as they forged a 9-5 advantage.
No chance. In the bottom of the fifth, University pounded out five runs to regain the lead with a one-run advantage, 10-9.
Though the Spartans were able to tie game in the sixth, 10-all, their offense was absent in the seventh and the Titans hung on for the win.
Riley Gregoire went 3-for-5 in the game, and had two runs. Alison Reichert was also impressive; she went 3-for-5 with three runs.
Erin Kinney also added three RBIs in the nailbiter.
A key moment came early, when McCloskey pulled starting Spartan pitcher Katie Raben and put in Deahna King.
“We got into a situation where we gave up four runs in the first inning, and I pulled a senior and put in a freshman,” McCloskey recalled. “I think she kept her composure.”
Instead, the real trouble came elsewhere.
“Offensively, we left too many people on base. I think we could have used one or two more runs out there,” she said.
Bainbridge bounced back in their second game, and ran over Bishop Blanchet 10-1.
It certainly didn’t shape up to be a blowout early on.
The two teams were knotted at one-run each after the first inning, and the game stayed 1-1 until the Spartans opened it up in the fourth.
The Spartans drilled home five runs in the inning to put the game at 6-1, and the Bainbridge barrage continued with two more runs in both the fourth and fifth.
Gregoire went 3-for-4 in the game with an RBI; fellow Spartan Alison Reichert went 1-or-2 with a double and a run. Raben finished with 1-of-3 batting and had a run and an RBI. Erin Kinney was 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI.
Natalie Allen went 2-for-4, and contributed two runs and an RBI.
Emily Schneider went 1-for-3 with an RBI.
BHS followed up the victory over Blanchet with a Spartan shelling of Holy Names, 15-3.
The Spartans led all the way, again, from start to finish.
Bainbridge batted first and opened up a 4-0 lead, but Holy Names cut that in half in their first at-bats.
With the score 4-2 heading into the second, Bainbridge tacked on two more and held Blanchet scoreless to lead 6-2.
The Spartans scattered four more runs across the next two innings, and Holy Names could only muster one run in response as the two teams entered the fifth with the score 10-3.
Neither team could turn the bases in the fifth or sixth, and Bainbridge put an exclamation point on the contest with a five-run seventh inning.
On Saturday, Bainbridge found itself where it started after the day’s earlier 14-7 win against Mountlake Terrace: with a matchup against University.
This time, things were not so close. The hits-and-runs of the Spartans in their first meeting with the Titans — and their ample offense seen in the late Friday games — was gone.
University claimed a two-run lead in the first and never looked back en route to an 8-0 win.
Bainbridge finished in fourth place at state.
“Overall, I’m proud of them,” McCloskey said of her Spartan team. “They came in ready to play. They did. They left it all out there.”
The hitting statistics are certainly proof of that; Bainbridge tallied 49 runs across four games.
Most dramatic, perhaps, was the grand slam by Raben in the game against Mountlake Terrace.
“She nailed some pretty hard balls solid, and was finally able to get the one she wanted and tag it over the center field fence,” McCloskey said.