Walla Walla Community College needed to sweep its baseball doubleheader on the last day of the regular season in order to edge out Big Bend for the last chance to play at least one more week.
First-place Yakima Valley stood in the way.
The Warriors made the Yaks pay, as Walla Walla pitchers threw back-to-back shutouts, 7-0 and 8-0, edging an idle Big Bend by a single game for the fourth and final playoff berth in the Northwest Athletic Conference’s East Region here Monday.
WWCC next plays Friday against Chemeketa of the South Region, either at Skagit Valley or Bellevue. The site and time will be determined later today.
The Warriors (25-16 overall, 15-13 in the league) finished their regular-season schedule with four straight wins, including a sweep of Big Bend at home last Wednesday.
On Saturday — originally scheduled to be everybody’s last day — Big Bend (14-14 record) swept Blue Mountain in Moses Lake, while rain in Walla Walla postponed the WWCC-Yakima twin bill, leaving the Warriors little margin of error in Monday’s makeup.
“We had our backs against the wall, had to go 4-0 this week to get into regionals, and we got it done,” WWCC coach Dave Meliah said. “It has been a wild ride of a season, and I am just really excited for the guys that they get to keep riding for at least another week.”
Trailing Big Bend by percentage points in the standings as they started Monday’s makeup, the Warriors proceeded to take the first game behind right-hander Jarrod Molnaa.
The Kennewick grad pitched a complete-game shutout with seven strikeouts and only one walk.
Yakima failed to scratch out a hit until the sixth inning,and the Yaks ended up with only four (all singles).
Meanwhile, Walla Walla’s Blake Macdonald paced the Warriors batting order with two doubles and two singles.
The Warriors gave Molnaa all the offense he needed in a five-run third inning.
No. 9 hitter Ryan Riepma started the rally with a walk, and then scored on Steven Sordahl’s double.
Macdonald drove home Sordahl with a one-out double for a 2-0 lead.
Later, with two outs, a Yakima fielding error opened the door for three more Walla Walla runs.
Now needing one more win to clinch the final playoff spot, the Warriors’ Griffin Davis and Caleb Custer combined to spin a three-hit shutout of Yakima in the nightcap.
Davis notched 11 strikeouts without any walks over the first eight innings.
“We had two more outstanding pitching performances today,” Meliah said. “Our pitchers really stepped up this week in a huge way.”
Meanwhile, the Warriors jumped ahead with five runs in the first inning and never looked back.
Custer relieved Davis in the ninth inning and closed out the win.