THIRD PLACE STATE WINNERS

THIRD PLACE STATE WINNERS — Sunnyside Christian Knights baseball team includes, front row from left to right: Matt Roedel, Tyler Groeneweg, Bode Jansen, bat boy Gunnar Alseth, Anthony Mendoza and Nate Moore; back row: coach Tyler Alseth, Kyler Marsh, coach Jaime Sarmiento, Eric Villalobos, Ross Faber, Marty Fultz, Justin VanWieringen and Brennan Rip.

WALLA WALLA — Down to their final out and facing a one run deficit with Tyler Groeneweg at first in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Knights’ Ross Faber drove a fastball deep to left center field wall and off the fielder’s glove and tripled home the game-tying run.

The three-sport athlete dug for third and slid into bag as the errant throw sailed wide, Faber sprinted home and got down underneath the Pomeroy catcher’s tag at the plate to win the game 4-3. The play secured the team’s third place State 1B tournament trophy on Monday, May 20, in Walla Walla.

“I know they all believed that they would come back. But, still to go from, ‘Oh no we’ve got one out left, and we’re down by a run, and this could be the end of our season’ to ‘Oh man, we just won the game.’ It added to the excitement. And, now we get to play for the state championship,” SCHS baseball Head Coach Tyler Alseth described.

Faber pitched a complete, eight inning game with 6 strike outs. The senior didn’t allow any runs until the top half of the sixth when Pomeroy scored twice.

Sunnyside Christian had been held hitless until the Knights answered right back on singles by Bode Jansen, Nate Moore, Groeneweg and Faber to tie the game at 2-2.

In the top of the eighth, Pomeroy scored one run. After the last out, Faber had reached his maximum 105 pitch allotment and would not be able to return to the mound. The Knights’ comeback would require his batting cleanup and base running talents which he delivered in the clutch.

“It’s the first time the team has ever placed for baseball… the first time we’ve been able to bring home a (State) trophy,” Faber proudly stated.

Baseball was the last sport in which the teams he’s been a member of hadn’t brought home state hardware. In his four years at SCHS, the basketball team has won three titles and the football team placed second at State in the 2017 1B Gridiron Classic.

“This season, you could just tell the kids were more confident and felt like they belonged more. They had been here before and kind of knew what to expect. Just seeing the kids make that next step was probably the best part of it, Alseth exclaimed.

In the semi-final game, the Knights went up against defending State champs Almira-Coulee-Hartline. The winner of this game would advance to the title game.

Having lost to the Warriors 7-1 last year, the Knights’ Eric Villalobos pitched a complete game striking out 5, while giving up two earned runs.

Sunnyside Christian had a couple of opportunities to score a run or two, however, the ball couldn’t find a hole in the defense.

Trailing 2-0, the Knights surrendered an unearned run in both the fourth and fifth innings and lost 4-0.

“Our first goal of the season was to make it back to State. And, once we accomplished that, we were determined to place and win our first game,” Alseth acknowledged. “This was our third year in a row going to State. The first two we got knocked out in the opening game.”

Almira-Coulee-Hartline defeated Odessa 10-0 in the State 1B championship game at Parker Faller Field in Yakima on Saturday, May 25

“It’s fun, knowing we got a trophy in all three sports,” Faber proudly acknowledged as he prepares to lead Sunnyside Christian’s class of 2019 as valedictorian with plans to attend Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa.

Patrick Shelby can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 110 or email PShelby@SunnysideSun.com

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