Walla Walla Community College

Warriors tie for 3rd at NWAC Championships

LONGVIEW, Wash. — Walla Walla lost its final two games of the Northwest Athletic Conference Championships here over the weekend, but still came away with its highest finish since 1999 in a tie for third place.

Everett knocked the Warriors out of the season-ending baseball tourney with a 9-2 victory Sunday at Story Field, less than 24 hours after host Lower Columbia had bumped WWCC into the consolation bracket with a 13-3 romp.

That all came after Walla Walla began the tournament with 10-3 victory over Linn-Benton Thursday and a 7-1 triumph over East Region rival Columbia Basin on Friday that pitted the Warriors against the Red Devils Saturday as the final two unbeaten teams in the tourney.

The Red Devils had advanced to that point with a 10-1 victory over Mount Hood Thursday and a 5-2 victory over Everett on Friday.

In consolation play Friday, Tacoma eliminated Linn-Benton 19-8 and Lane ousted Mount Hood 3-2. Lane then defeated Columbia Basin 3-2 in a loser-out game and Everett outlasted Tacoma 8-7 in 15 innings, a win that gave the Trojans their shot at Walla Walla.

While the Warriors finished the tournament with a 2-2 record and a share of third place in the final tournament standings, Everett faced Lower Columbia in the championship showdown at 12:05 p.m on Monday. The Trojans defeated the Red Devils 6-3 to force a deciding title game. However, Lower Columbia bounced back with a 5-1 victory to claim the title in the double-elimination tournament.

“I’m just so proud of this group,” said coach Dave Meliah, who completed his eighth year as the Warriors’ head coach with a 30-20 record. “They worked so hard all year long. They are a great group and deserved everything that they earned.”

Clark Streby, a sophomore right-hander out of Selah, Wash., scattered eight hits and pitched the Warriors to their 7-1 victory over CBC on Friday. Sophomore outfielder Colton Peha of Spokane’s Central Valley High backed him with four hits.

“Clark was incredible,” Meliah said of Streby. “He commanded all of his pitches and worked both sides of the plate. He did a great job of keeping them off balance and letting the defense work.”

Warriors pitching wasn’t as effective in the ensuing two games, however, as Lower Columbia jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning and made it 7-0 after three innings, and Everett plated four runs in the bottom of the first and never looked back.

“We just got off to bad starts in both of those games,” Meliah said. “We got beat pretty soundly in both, but bad first innings set the tone in both of them. And those are probably the best two teams in the tournament.

“Not that we weren’t good enough,” Meliah added. “We just got off to bad starts. We beat some good teams along the way, including Linn-Benton, which was the No. 1 team going into the tournament.”

WWCC and pitcher Jarrod Molnaa found themselves trailing Linn-Benton, 3-1, after four innings of their Northwest Athletic Conference tournament-opening game on Thursday.

But Molnaa managed to stay on the mound by throwing five straight scoreless innings, while Warrior hitters put together a decisive four-run sixth inning, to take a 5-3 lead.

Walla Walla added two more runs in the seventh inning, and three in the ninth, for a 10-3 victory at Story Field.

Molnaa ended up pitching all nine innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on seven hits and a walk, but finished with 11 strikeouts.

“Jarrod threw a great game,” WWCC coach Dave Meliah said. “It was a good time to have his first complete game of the season.”

Walla Walla lost both ends of its twin bill against Linn-Benton on March 25 at Warrior Field, but gained some revenge with Thursday’s postseason win.

Leadoff hitter Brandon Wagstaff drove home four runs with his double and single, and Larry DeWitt hit a double and two singles, but the Warriors did a lot of damage with their patience.

As Molnaa settled in for a complete game, Linn-Benton called on five men to the mound who combined to give up 11 walks and hit four Warriors with pitches.

Quentin Lafontaine had three runs batted in from the No. 9 spot without any hits. He got one on a Linn-Benton error in the sixth inning, another when hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the seventh, and still another with a bases-loaded walk in the ninth. 

Josh Kutzke singled and walked four times, Colton Peha had two singles and two walks, and Robby Heiberg walked twice.

“We had some solid at bats and forced them to throw a lot of pitches,” Meliah said, “then got some big hits to extend the lead.”

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