YAKIMA — With hits and baserunners at a premium in Saturday’s 2A state baseball championship, neither Mountlake Terrace nor Ellensburg had much room for error.
The defending champion Bulldogs minimized their mistakes down the stretch, and held off Mountlake Terrace for a thrilling 2-1 victory at County Stadium.
“We’ve been in tough games like this all season,” Mountlake Terrace coach Andrew Watters said. “Losing one like this is tough.”
The game was scoreless through five innings, neither team advanced a runner past second base as the Hawks’ Kendall Yackley battled the Bulldogs’ Brady Helgeson in a pitcher’s duel.
Ellensburg (22-4) finally broke through in the sixth, using a Mountlake Terrace error to jump-start its only scoring rally of the night.
Helgeson reached on the miscue and advanced to third on Tyler Polacek’s double into the left-field corner.
Helgeson scored the first run of the night on a wild pitch by Yackley, and Jadon Bugni drove in Polacek with a sharp single over the Hawks’ drawn-in infield.
With nobody out and their fans roaring, the Bulldogs had all the momentum, but it evaporated quickly. Gage Gibson lined out to Terrace’s Max Coleman in right field, but the Ellensburg runner on first base kept running and was doubled off first for the second out.
The rally ended, and Ellensburg nearly came to rue the mental mistake.
Down to its final at-bat, Mountlake Terrace caught a break when Helgeson hit Coleman with the first pitch of the frame. Dan Bingaman singled to center field, marking the first — and only — time all game that the Hawks had consecutive batters reach base safely.
Tyson Kim followed with a hard-hit grounder to shortstop that kicked off Gibson’s chest, but second baseman Trace Townsend gobbled it up and threw to first, barely beating Kim. The runners moved to second and third, and after Helgeson was relieved on the mound by hard-throwing sophomore Davis Spencer, the Hawks scored their only run on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Jesse Martineau.
“We weren’t going to fold up today,” Watters said. “I’m proud of our guys for that.”
Spencer recovered, and struck out Layne Zuschin to end the game.
The Hawks (18-9) had difficulty getting to Helgeson, who allowed three hits and one earned run in 6 1/3 innings.
“We did a good job of getting ahead of him and I though we had tough at-bats, but didn’t barrel enough balls up,” Watters said.
Yackley went the distance for Mountlake Terrace and allowed six hits and two runs, one of which was earned. He struck out five and did not walk a batter, working quickly and pumping strikes all game.
“I’m just so proud of these guys,” Watters said. “They had a great season and they have nothing to hang their heads about. It just hurts for a little while.”