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Mavs win Big 9 baseball title, punch ticket to state with win over Eastmont

by IAN BIVONA
Sports Reporter | May 10, 2024 9:38 PM

MOSES LAKE — The Moses Lake Mavericks are once again moving on to the 4A State Baseball Tournament, having defeated Eastmont 8-2 in Friday’s Columbia Basin Big 9 district championship game in Moses Lake.

“It doesn’t get old,” Moses Lake head coach Donnie Lindgren said. “Three or four times as district champions in five years, it’s awesome. This is a team that graduated seven starters, and we weren't supposed to finish better than fifth or sixth. To win league, and then to win the district championship, it’s just a testament to these guy’s beliefs and hard work.”

After Eastmont went up 1-0 in the top of the second inning, Maverick sophomore Daniel Baez tied the ballgame up with a sacrifice bunt that sent home junior Cooper Hancock in the bottom of the second inning.

“After getting that up, seeing that if I can do something, the whole team can do something,” Baez said. “Getting that run down, that bunt down, we were ready.”

Moses Lake took the lead in the bottom of the third inning, led by an RBI single off the bat of junior Jackson Carlos. With the bases loaded, sophomore Noah Hernandez and Baez were both walked to push the Moses Lake lead to 4-1.

Following an RBI single from senior Nolan Betz in the bottom of the fifth inning and junior Wyatt Cole scoring on a wild pitch, senior Jayce Stuart delivered a two-RBI single to increase the lead to 8-1.

“(With the) infield in, you’ve just got to do your job,” Stuart said. “A line drive, little blooper to the outfield, it gets the job done. I knew I had to have the right approach, get a base hit and clutch up.”

Freshman pitcher Dagen Enquist closed out the win for Moses Lake, striking out two of his final three batters faced to seal the 8-2 district championship win.

“I was hyped, I had to calm myself down a little bit — can’t show it — but, it was great,” Enquist said.

The Mavericks collected eight runs on seven hits in Friday’s win; the last time Moses Lake played Eastmont, Wildcat pitcher Bodie Yale pitched a no-hitter in a 2-0 Eastmont win April 5. Yale opened the game on the mound Friday.

“We were hoping they would throw him,” Lindgren said. “We worked on his slider and his fastball all week on the pitching machine, in cages and live hitting. We worked against that type of thing and had a couple of great hitting practices the last couple days, and our guys were barreling it up.”

Last week’s sweep of West Valley (Yakima) surged the Mavericks into first place in the CBBN standings; both Moses Lake and Eastmont posted 14-4 records in league play during the regular season, but the Mavs held the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Wildcats.

“Coming off a big sweep against West Valley, (we had) a lot of momentum coming from that and being league champs,” Stuart said. “Going into practice this week, we knew we had a lot of work to do.”

Adding some fuel to the fire was the Wildcats declaring themselves co-league champions, even with Moses Lake holding the tiebreaker in head-to-head wins.

“Them saying they were co-champions when we beat them two out of three really kind of ticked our guys off, our coaches off,” Lindgren said. “They weren’t co-champions, that’s why we have a tie-breaker on that – this team deserved it, they came out and we wanted to prove that we were league champions and district champions. We wanted to take three of four from them.”

Moses Lake secured its fifth consecutive state tournament berth with Friday’s win. After significant roster turnover from the 2023 season, Lindgren credited the team’s belief in one another for being able to put together a league and district title-winning season.

“They believe in each other,” Lindgren said. “If someone doesn’t get the job done, they’re the next guy’s biggest fan. They believe in each other, they believe in what we’re trying to preach in being aggressive and doing the little things right. They do it every day at practice; they’re willing to give up their bodies, their stats, whatever it is to get the job done. They’re a great group of guys.”

State baseball brackets were not available in time for press deadline, but Moses Lake will play in the opening round May 18. Time, location and seeding have yet to be determined.

“State tournament’s a whole different breed,” Lindgren said. “We’re going to face guys that are Division I prospects, they’ve signed with Division I teams and everything. The crazy part is, these guys believe in themselves and baseball’s the craziest game because it’s never over till it’s over. Anybody can beat anybody on any given day and all the clichés. To be in the state tournament five years in a row is just incredible, and I couldn’t do it without my assistant coaches.”

Ian Bivona may be reached at ibivona@columbiabasinherald.com. 

Box score

ESTM: 0-1-0-0-0-1-0 2
MSLK: 0-1-3-0-4-0-X 8


    Moses Lake senior Jayce Stuart awaits a pitch in the batter’s box. Stuart tied for a team-high in RBI (two) and led the Mavs with two hits in Friday’s win over Eastmont.
 
 
    A Moses Lake player holds up the district championship trophy amid a celebration with teammates after the Mavericks defeated Eastmont 8-2 in the Columbia Basin Big 9 district championship game.
 
 
    Moses Lake sophomore Daniel Baez lays down a bunt, tying the game at one in the bottom of the second inning against Eastmont.
 
 
    Moses Lake freshman Dagen Enquist yells out in celebration after throwing the game’s final out.