After losing their last five games, including an 11-5 loss against Great Northern League regular season champions West Valley, May 5, the Cheney High baseball team entered the postseason with new life as they defeated Clarkston, 11-1, May 9 and East Valley, 16-4, May 11.
In the May 5 game against West Valley, the Blackhawks took an early lead with three runs in the first inning and two in the second. After being down 5-4, the Eagles scored four runs in the fifth and three in the sixth.
Cheney’s bats started to gain some momentum in the first inning after three-consecutive singles from Riley Jones, Chance Gleave and Kyle Jones. Dominic Bonilla was 2 for 3 with an RBI.
“We played pretty sloppy defense,” head coach Mike Cagle said, referencing the five errors Cheney made during the game. “But getting those five hits, especially after three shutouts, was nice.”
After the game Cagle asked the team to focus on their recent performance and try to “figure out how to work through it.” What resulted were three of the best practices the team has had since the start of the season.
“Before the Clarkston game, at around 9:30 a.m., I came to my office and saw some of the team outside, I figured they were just getting everything set up, like we do for every home game,” Cagle said. “When I walked out there, they were already in uniform and ready to play. They were all business.”
In the Clarkston game, Cheney went on an impressive eight-run rally in the third inning, which included a three-run home run from Cameron Marchand. The Bantams prevented the shutout after scoring one run at the top of the fifth inning. The Blackhawks answered with three more runs in the bottom of the fifth, which forced the mercy rule.
At the plate, Kyle Jones was 3 for 3 with an RBI. Cade VanWormer was 2 for 4 with a two-RBI double. Bonilla was 2 for 4 with a double and Connor Pratt was 2 for 3 with an RBI.
Pratt (6-3) picked up the win at the mound, throwing 10 strikeouts and giving up only three hits. He currently has 86 strikeouts in 51 innings.
“Connor was just on fire, like he’s been all year,” Cagle said. “Before the game he gave an inspirational speech, one of the best I’ve ever heard as a coach.”
Against East Valley, VanWormer put Cheney on the scoreboard after a two-run home run in the first inning. The Blackhawks scored three more in the second inning while East Valley prevented the shutout by scoring four runs in the third.
Cheney scored five runs in the bottom of the third and six more in the fourth, including a three-RBI triple from VanWormer, which forced the mercy rule.
“VanWormer was struggling for a bit, like any player does,” Cagle said. “I’d like to see him continue on this tear at the plate he’s on.”
Bonilla was 1 for 3 with two RBIs. Pratt was 1 for 3 with an RBI.
Kyle Jones (6-4) got the win for the East Valley game, striking out nine batters. He shared pitching duties with Logan Pratt for the West Valley game.
“After Kyle (Jones) gave up four runs in the East Valley game, I told him ‘this is your game, I’m not going to take you out in the third,’” Cagle said. “I’m proud to see how he’s responded to tough situations.”
Cheney played West Valley May 12 in the GNL championship game. If they win, the Blackhawks will host the No. 3 CWAC seed — the winner of that day’s Othello vs. East Valley-Yakima game — at home, May 19. If they lose, Cheney will travel to the No. 2 CWAC seed — the loser of the Ellensburg vs. Selah game.