If Wednesday’s pitching performance would be replicated, Walla Walla Community College baseball coach Dave Meliah may sit out next game, too.
Without their skipper, who was out with the flu, the Warriors didn’t miss a beat.
Game-one starter Jake Simmons threw eight shutout innings in a 10-0 mercy-rule win, before fellow freshman Griffin Davis matched him with eight scoreless frames in a 7-0 victory over Big Bend at Warrior Field.
“I have the upmost confidence in all of our coaches to pick up the slack for the others when one of us is gone,” Meliah said. “Coach Biagi, coach Speer, coach Telstad, coach Holtzinger and coach Woelber got the guys focused and ready to go and the guys didn’t miss a beat. That is what is so fun about coaching with those guys is that we are all in it together and to help the guys get better.”
With the sweep, WWCC improves to 17-9 overall and 7-3 in the East Region. The Vikings slip to 9-14 and 2-8 in the East.
It was hard to overshadow Simmons’ quick work of Big Bend in the opener, but Davis managed to do just that.
He allowed his first hit in the fourth, but promptly forced a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Davis then retired the next 10 batters he faced, before a bloop single fell into the gap in the top of the eighth.
He finished with just two hits allowed, five strikeouts and one walk.
“Our starting pitchers, Jake and Griffin, did a tremendous job of getting ahead and controlling the at bats,” Meliah said. “Anytime you have two shutouts in a doubleheader, you know you are doing some things very well and obviously those two did that.”
The offense, which was held in check over the first five frames of the opener, didn’t waste time getting going in the nightcap.
The Warriors took a 4-0 lead in the bottom of one, as a Big Bend throwing error on an Austin Kopacz grounder brought home Michael Kilpatrick, who opened the game with a walk.
After a fly out and a sacrifice bunt to move Kopacz and Steven Sordahl to second and third, respectively, Dylan Wilbert laced a two-run double over the center fielder’s head.
A Gibson McGeorge single moved Wilbert to third and Chandler Whitney followed with a single into the right-center field gap to score Wilbert.
Whitney was thrown out at second to end the inning.
“Chandler Whitney broke out a little bit and had some big hits in the second game,” Meliah said.
After tacking on a run in the third, the Warriors added to the lead in the home fourth.
Whitney came around to score on a Big Bend error after walking earlier in the frame.
Kilpatrick, who reached on the error, then stole second before Sordahl knocked him in with a single in front of the left fielder.
The Warriors finished with 11 hits in game two and thanks in part to their savvy baserunning, took advantage of two Vikings’ errors.
The offense in the opener took time to get going, but two big innings proved to the difference.
After Big Bend starter Kaleb Price worked five scoreless innings, the Warriors finally broke through in the sixth. With one out, WWCC loaded the bases on two walks to Kilpatrick and Kopacz and a Big Bend error.
Clayten Ayres then broke the scoreless tie after being down 0-2 in the count by working a walk. Jarod Paul made it 2-0, as he was hit in the left elbow by the first pitch he saw.
Blake Macdonald followed by hitting a looper down the right field line that brought home both Kopacz and Ayres.
That was all the support Simmons needed on the mound, as he scattered three hits over eight innings of work with five strikeouts and no walks.
Simmons pounded the strike zone, as he threw just 76 pitches with 51 for strikes.
The defense also did its part, as the WWCC fielders finished with no errors in the two games combined.
Walla Walla ended game two in the bottom of the eighth with six runs, as Wilbert, Hunter Chambers, Cody Price, Kilpatrick and Sordahl all collected RBI singles in succession.
Kilpatrick, Wilbert and Whitney all finished with three hits on the day.
Kopacz drew five free passes in the two games combined and scored four runs.
WWCC plays a doubleheader at Columbia Basin (20-6 overall, 7-3 East Region) on Saturday.