1A baseball: A win to NV

May 26, 2012 by  

Rangers blank Meridian to reach 1A final ||

YAKIMA, Wash. — Bill Walker admitted to having the shakes, sort of, when he spoke to his Naches Valley baseball team Friday.

And no, the weather wasn’t that cool or blustery at Yakima County Stadium.

The veteran Rangers coach had merely congratulated NV on its 4-0 conquest of Meridian in a Class 2A state semifinal, and its accompanying berth in today’s title game.

Naches Valley High School pitcher Noel Gonzalez, left, and Nathan Giles celebrate the Rangers' won over Meridian High School Friday, May 25, 2012. (Andy Sawyer/Yakima Herald-Republic)



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Naches Valley, 22-2, will meet unbeaten Cashmere at 4 p.m. for the crown with Cole Gilman, newly named SCAC West MVP, starting for the Rangers.

“Now you guys get to play in a state championship game,” Walker said. “I get chills just saying that.”

And why not? Just three years ago the Rangers had not only participated in a state title game, they’d won it, as the Bulldogs did in 2010.

If the prospect of the program’s third such championship (the first came in 1991) was not in itself goose-bump inducing, how about Noel Gonzalez’s one-hit pitching in Friday’s triumph?

That’s right — a second-inning infield single, on a bang-bang play at first that could have gone either way — was all Naches Valley’s senior right-hander surrendered in a performance for the ages.

“We’ll give ‘em that one,” Walker said of the hit. “Actually, Noel pitched five innings against Zillah earlier this season that were just as dominant.”

But not quite as meaningful. Again, this victory meant a state title game berth for the Rangers.

“No, never,” Gonzalez responded quietly when asked if he’d ever pitched a one-hitter, a no-hitter or a better game with such profound ramifications. “My stuff was pretty good, and I had a really good fastball. The curve was there sometimes, and sometimes not.”

But often enough to keep the Trojans (14-12) off balance, if not completely off base, for the game’s duration.

Gonzalez (11-0) struck out four, hit two, walked one and didn’t allow a baserunner past second. He retired 13 of his last 15 hitters.

NV’s offense, meanwhile, maximized its four hits — all singles — thanks in large part to textbook sacrifice bunts that led to the Rangers’ first two runs. Errors aided Naches Valley’s final tallies.

In the top of the first inning, Austin Molner’s leadoff walk was followed by a Gonzalez sacrifice. Molner then scored on Cole Gilman’s base hit to right.

In the third, Jake Frazier singled and was bunted to second by Molner. He took third on a wild pitch and came home on Gilman’s sacrifice fly to center.

“Just very good fundamental baseball,” Walker said. “The way we played today is how we’ve played all year. And I’ll expect to see that again tomorrow.”

Cashmere, 25-0, beat Chimacum for the title here in 2010. NV, which downed Kalama for its most recent championship, also reached the title game 1999 and 2007.

Naches Valley 101 001 1 — 4 4 2
Meridian 000 000 0 — 0 1 3

Gonzalez and Wells; Heslep and Murphy.

Highlights: Noel Gonzalez (NV) 4 Ks, 1 BB, 2 HBP; Cole Gilman (NV) 1-3, 2 RBI; Nathan Giles (NV) 1-3, run; Koleman Johns (NV) 1-3, RBI; Jake Frazier (NV) 1-1, 2 BB, run.

CASHMERE 3, KALAMA 2: Mitchell Darlington sliced a 2-2 pitch just inside the right-field line for an RBI double as Cashmere slipped past Kalama.

The victory lifted the Bulldogs (25-0) into today’s 4 p.m. state championship game.

With one out in the seventh, Mason Elliott started Cashmere’s game-winning rally with a single to right and advanced to second on a groundout. Leadoff batter Alex Chipman was intentionally walked, setting up Darlington’s game-winner.

Darlington finished 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles. Kyle Weiler plated Cashmere’s first-inning run on a sacrifice fly, and Cooper Elliott added an RBI single in the fourth.

Cashmere led 2-0 through five innings, but Kalama knotted the game at 2-2 in the sixth on back-to-back RBI singles by Lars Rider and Austin Lien.

The Bulldogs had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the sixth, when an intentional walk to Weiler loaded the bases with no outs. But Lien, Kalama’s starter, got back-to-back grounders that forced runners out at home and then ended the inning with a strikeout.

Colton Loomis struck out eight and walked four to earn the complete-game victory. Cashmere’s defense turned two double plays to help keep Loomis out of major trouble.

Kalama 000 002 0 — 2 7 0
Cashmere 100 100 1 — 3 6 0

Rider and Vossen; Loomis and Weiler.

Filed under *Prep Spotlights*, All, Baseball, Featured Prep Sports, Featured Stories, Naches Valley

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