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Huskies win over East Valley

by IAN BIVONA
Sports Reporter | May 6, 2024 6:20 PM

OTHELLO — A three-run bottom of the second inning helped push Othello over East Valley (Yakima) in Saturday’s Central Washington Athletic Conference district semifinal, with the Huskies defeating the Red Devils 4-2.

“We were excited and confident,” Othello junior Sonny Salazar said. “We worked all year for this — all summer, the winter — we were ready and prepared.”

Following a scoreless first inning, Othello’s first two batters were walked to open the bottom of the second, followed by sophomore RJay Garza singling to load up the bases. 

“When you do the little things like get on base, just a little single, I guess it pumps the team up,” Garza said. “It staggers onto the next guy so he gets a hit, and hypes us all up.”

A bases-loaded walk two at-bats later gave Othello a 1-0 lead, and senior Kal-El Ozuna drove in a run on an RBI single for a 2-0 lead. 

Senior Xzyan Martinez grounded into a fielder’s choice, which Garza scored off of.

“We had a couple of hits there, and momentum stayed on our side,” Othello head coach Sonny Garza said. “The ball kind of rolled in our favor, so it was good to see us string a couple hits together and see the kids get excited.”

The Huskies added their final run of the day in the bottom of the fourth, when RJay Garza hit a solo home run to left center field to lead off the inning.

“I was ahead of the count, I knew he had to give me something to hit,” RJay Garza said. “I just slowed it early, was ready and he let it over the plate. I just swung hard.”

The Red Devils got on the board in the top of the sixth inning on an RBI single and added another run in the top of the seventh, but the Huskies held on for the 4-2 win and advanced to the district championship game against Ellensburg on Tuesday.

“We have a lot of confidence in our pitching, so we knew that on defense if we get out there and let let our pitchers do it, we’re going to back it up,” Sonny Garza said. “They (East Valley) kind of got momentum a little bit in those later two innings, but we were confident.”

Salazar got the start on the mound, pitching six inning while surrendering three hits, three walks and four strikeouts. Freshman Xzyyvn Martinez pitched the seventh nning, giving up one hit. 

“I did what I did all season, learned to do what I was taught,” Salazar said. “Grinded and let my team play the game too.”

By finishing second in the CWAC league standings Othello earned a first-round bye in this year’s district tournament, avoiding playing Thursday.

“That was big. It gave our pitching staff a couple of days more rest, it gave us fresh legs going into the weekend,” Sonny Garza said. “I think that was huge, it’s the first time that we’ve had that opportunity to do that so we took advantage of it. I felt it was something that really helped us.”

Othello (18-4 overall, 10-2 CWAC) moves on to host Ellensburg on Tuesday in the CWAC district title game. The Huskies previously swept Ellensburg in a home doubleheader on March 30, winning 2-1 and 8-1. Ellensburg (12-10 overall, 7-5 CWAC) defeated No. 1 seed Selah 11-0 in Saturday’s semifinal matchup.

“We’re going in knowing that they’re a tough opponent, and we’ve got to take care of business and do what we’ve got to do,” Sonny Garza said. “But we’ve got to go in confidence.”

First pitch between the Huskies and Bulldogs is at 4:30 p.m. The winner qualifies for the 2A State Baseball tournament, while the loser will play either Selah or East Valley on Saturday in the consolation round.

“It’s definitely a confidence boost, for sure,” Salazar said of the win. “We’re going to do the same thing we have all season; work hard, get ready for the next game and get ready to roll.”

Ian Bivona may be reached at ibivona@columbiabasinherald.com

Box score

EVY: 0-0-0-0-0-1-1 2
OTH: 0-3-0-1-0-0-X 4


    Othello sophomore RJay Garza, in white, trots past second base and celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
 
 
    Othello sophomore Quade Gonzalez looks toward first base after picking up a ground ball against East Valley (Yakima) on Saturday.
 
 
    Othello junior Jordan Montemayor, in white, dashes toward third base against East Valley (Yakima) on Saturday.