TUMWATER - In River Ridge's six previous games, the Hawks' bats made plenty of noise - offense was not an issue. But pitching and defense were another story.
On a sunny Friday afternoon at Black Hills High School, the Hawks put a complete package together that led to their first win. They got the offense they wanted, a solid pitching performance and good defense in a 10-3 2A Evergreen Conference victory over Black Hills.
River Ridge, the three-time defending 2A District IV champion, improved its record to 1-6. Black Hills dropped to 4-3 in EvCo play. The Wolves later played Lynden in the second game of a league/nonleague doubleheader.
“It feels great to get the first win,” said the Hawks’ Daniel Wharton, who pitched four-plus innings to pick up the win. “We’ve been having a hard time getting in the win column. This one will put us on the right track.”
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In four of their seven games, the Hawks averaged 10 hits and 8.5 runs.
On Thursday, Black Hills defeated River Ridge, 10-8, in a back-and-forth game, but it was all Hawks in Friday’s conclusion of a home-and-home series – although it took a few innings.
The teams breezed through the first three innings in less than an hour. In the fourth, Wolves starter Devin Warner struggled with his control, walking five batters and throwing 31 pitches. He fell behind in the count on four of the five batters he walked, but the defense also had two errors that led to two runs.
In all, River Ridge sent 13 batters to the plate in the fourth, scoring nine runs on two hits and six free passes to open a 9-0 lead. The nine runs represent the biggest inning for the Hawks this season.
Jeremy Camacho ignited River Ridge’s fourth with a six-pitch walk. He later scored the first run on a throwing error on Ryan Counard’s chopper to second base. Counard advanced to second on the bad throw that allowed Camacho to race home. Counard also had a two-RBI double later in the inning.
“I saw a lot of good, patient at-bats by our kids,” River Ridge coach Chad Arko said. “We haven’t been patient, we’ve been too aggressive, and I finally saw some patient-aggressiveness at the plate.”
Black Hills hitters had a hard time against Wharton. The junior gave up two earned runs on four of the Wolves’ five total hits, struck out four and walked two before leaving in the fifth inning.
Black Hills opened the home half of the fifth by drawing a walk. An error and a balk led to one run, and Kyle Fredericks was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Adam Meyer, who drilled a two-run double to left field to make the score 9-3.
The bases were loaded for Black Hills three times in the inning, and the Hawks got out of the third jam when shortstop Bryan Lounsbury flied out to right-center field. Meyer finished 1-for-4, and Drew DeVoe was 2-for-4 with two singles.
“I was really happy with our intensity at the plate,” Black Hills coach Lem Elway said. “The kids were aggressive and hit the ball well, we just didn’t hit them where they weren’t.”
At 1-6, Arko admitted it’s the first time in his 11 years at River Ridge that his team lost its first six games. But last season, the Hawks entered the District IV tournament as a No. 4 seed at 7-12 and won their third straight district title to advance to the regional tournament for the fifth straight year.
“Like last year, anything can happen,” Arko said. “The biggest thing is getting their confidence up, and let’s roll and see where it takes us.”
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org twitter.com/OlympianPreps www.theolympian.com/prepsportsblog