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Mavericks open series with a win over West Valley

by IAN BIVONA
Sports Reporter | May 1, 2024 3:08 PM

MOSES LAKE — A three-run bottom of the third inning was enough to send Moses Lake over West Valley (Yakima) in Tuesday’s Columbia Basin Big 9 matchup, with the Mavericks later winning the ballgame 4-1.

“They’re just like us; they’re fundamentally sound, they pitch it well, they field it well,” Moses Lake head coach Donnie Lindgren said of the visiting Rams. “They barreled up some balls that we made some good plays on, and we had some clutch hits when it counted. That’s what got us over the hump.”

Maverick freshman Jacoby Fulbright gave his team the lead with a two-RBI single in the bottom of the third, sending home seniors Nolan Betz and Jayce Stuart for a 2-0 lead.

“I saw a first-pitch fastball, took it for strike one. I saw it really well; he put it pretty much in the same spot, and I drove it into left-center for a single,” Fulbright said. 

In the next at-bat, Moses Lake junior Jackson Carlos delivered an RBI single to send home junior Cruz Martinez for a 3-0 lead.

“I saw them shift it over a little to second base, so I was like, ‘Might as well try to go (opposite field) and see if we can advance a runner,’” Carlos said. “It worked out in our favor, so it was nice.”

After West Valley added a run in the top of the fifth, the Mavericks answered with a run of their own after Stuart scored on a Ram error. 

All four of Moses Lake’s runs came with two outs on the board.

“With two outs, or if it’s the seventh inning, anything else, they just go about their work like you’re as good as your next pitch,” Lindgren said. 

West Valley scored just one run on five hits in Tuesday’s game. Fulbright credited pitching by junior Kason Whitaker and freshman Dagen Enquist for the defensive performance.

“Our pitching definitely gave us some nice ground balls and got them to pop it up a lot,” Fulbright said.

Lindgren shared a similar sentiment.

“We made some plays,” Lindgren said. “We had a double-play possibility but we got the lead runner, and then our pitchers kept it at a minimum; they got a guy on, fouled off a couple bunt attempts and then got a big strikeout. That kind of stops their offensive game plan.”

Whitaker got the start, pitching five innings and surrendering four hits, one earned run and no walks while striking out four West Valley batters. Enquist pitched the final two innings, giving up one hit and struck out one batter.

Tuesday’s game was the opener of Moses Lake’s final series of the regular season. There’s a logjam at the top of the Big 9 standings; Moses Lake and Eastmont both post 12-4 marks in league games this season, with Davis sitting one game back at 11-5 in the Big 9. Davis won two of the three games against the Mavericks in the series from two weeks ago. Moses Lake won two of the three games against Eastmont earlier this season; the Wildcats play Sunnyside this week in a three-game set and won the first game 6-0 on Tuesday.

“If we didn’t get the win here, then that puts us basically fighting for our lives for third or fourth place I think, because I don’t think Eastmont’s going to lose a game to Sunnyside and I honestly don’t think Davis is going to lose to Wenatchee,” Lindgren said. “It’s going to come down to us and Eastmont for (the No. 1 seed), and if we don’t get the wins against West Valley then we’re looking at third or fourth place, and you’ve got to play three games to get to state as opposed to one or two.”

The Mavericks travel to Yakima to play the Rams in a doubleheader on Friday. First pitch is at 4 p.m.

“We want to host a playoff game as much as they do, so we’re really striving to get all three from them,” Carlos said. “They’re a good team; we’ve definitely got to work on a couple things, and we’re going to be ready to play by Friday.”

Before Tuesday’s game, coaches in the Moses Lake baseball program were recognized for their time and effort put into the team.

“I’ve got 10 great co-coaches, from the C-squad all the way up to the varsity,” Lindgren said. “I just wanted to recognize them, because they don’t get enough recognition for all the work they do. They’re the heartbeat of this program, and I appreciate them.”

Ian Bivona may be reached at ibivona@columbiabasinherald.com

Box score

WVLY: 0-0-0-0-1-0-0 1
MSLK: 0-0-3-0-1-0-X 4


    Moses Lake junior Cooper Hancock runs to third base during Tuesday’s game against West Valley (Yakima).
 
 
    Moses Lake junior Jackson Carlos singles on a ground ball for an RBI in the bottom of the third inning against West Valley (Yakima).
 
 
    Moses Lake senior Willem Jansen rounds third base in the bottom of the sixth inning against West Valley (Yakima).