Walla Walla holds on for win
A closer look at the Walla Walla, Washington 4-3 win over Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Saturday at Lamade Stadium.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Landon Welter started the game in center field but moved to right field in the fourth inning and immediately left his mark on the game. Welter hustled in to shallow right field, slid and made a super diving catch that robbed Ethan Bruns of a lead-off single. Washington led 3-1 at the time and had Welter not made the play, South Dakota would have had the tying run at the plate with no outs. In a game decided by one run, that play loomed large.
Washington right fielder Landon Welter moved from center field and the switch paid huge dividends in the fourth inning when he made a diving catch and robbed Ethan Bruns of a lead-off single.
WASHINGTON PLAYER OF THE GAME: Barely edging out Caiden Thomsen who went 3 for 3 with three RBIs, Andrew Hall pitched the game of his life at the perfect time. The right-hander threw a complete-game four-hitter and showed no fear after Phillips hit a two-run home run in the sixth, retiring the next to batters and clinching the win.
SOUTH DAKOTA PLAYER OF THE GAME: Ethan Bruns and Marcus Phillips. Give Bruns a lot of credit. He could not have bounced back any better after that three-run first inning, allowing just four hits and one run the rest of the way. Bruns threw a complete-game seven-hitter, struck out six and gave his team a shot at coming back to win. Phillips continued dazzling, going 2 for 3 with two home runs and three RBIs while also making some excellent plays at first base.
BIG INNING: Washington was shutout in their Series opener but erased that frustration immediately taking a 3-0 lead in the top of the first. Hall doubled and Caiden Thomsen hit a two-run double down the left-field line, giving Washington a lead it never relinquished.
BEST EFFORT: This was about as well-played a defensive game as fans could hope to see at the Series. Not only did both teams play error-less baseball, but both also took turns making highlight plays. It looked like a professional game at times. That is how good the defense was.
HOME RUNS: Marcus Phillips helped South Dakota break out of an offensive funk in a big way, blasting a first-inning home run way out in right-center field as the Midwest champions cut the deficit to, 3-1. Phillips did it again in the sixth inning, working a full count, then launching a long two-run home run to left-center showing he can hit to all fields.
FLASHING LEATHER: South Dakota second baseman Beau Giblin made a nice hustling play in the first inning, fielding a groundball near the middle of the infield and hustling to first for an unassisted putout. Washington shortstop Drew Coleman made an impressive second-inning play, fielding Jack Radel’s grounder on the fly and making a perfect threw across his body to beat him by a step. South Dakota right fielder Jaxsen Grevengoed made a sensational throw from the right-field line in the third inning, hitting Radel at the perfect spot as they caught Caiden Thomsen trying to stretch a single into a double.
WHAT THE KIDS SAY: “I just had to move forward,” Hall said of his mindset after allowing the sixth-inning home run. “I was thinking don’t worry about what happened. They are a good team and we hung on to beat them so it was a great feeling.”
WHAT THE ADULTS SAY: “It’s emotional. They all care about each other,” South Dakota manager Jeff Riley said. “It’s 14 kids loving each other. I can’t explain how much these kids respect each other.”
WHAT IT MEANS: Washington stays alive and will play Monday against the loser of today’s Texas/Connecticut game. South Dakota is eliminated from title contention but can still end its terrific all-star run with a win Tuesday if it can defeat Australia in Tuesday’s consolation game.