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Dbacks hurl back-to-back blanks

If their last two games are any indication, the West Kootenay Diamondbacks found their “AA” game and look ready for the playoffs.
Players look on in anticipation as West Kootenay Diamondback catcher Lucas Thatcher steals home against the Deer Park Stags in a “AA” Spokane American Legion doubleheader Wednesday at Butler Park. Thatcher was safe and proved to be the insurance run in a 2-0 Dbacks victory.

If their last two games are any indication, the West Kootenay Diamondbacks found their “AA” game and look ready for the playoffs.

After dropping three of four close matches last week, the Diamondbacks got back on track and swept a doubleheader at Butler Park Wednesday.

The team shutout the Deer Park Stags in both sides of a doubleheader in “AA” Spokane American Legion baseball.

The Diamondbacks finished in third place in the north division behind the Mead Panthers and Mt. Spokane Wild, good enough for a spot in the playoffs.

“We competed quite well,” said Dbacks manager Kelly Johnson. “We came up against some tough teams at the end but we managed to pull through and get a playoff spot and that was our goal right from the start.”

The team plays the second seed from the south division, the Ferris Saxons, today at 5:30 p.m. in Spokane and need to win the game to move on in the playoffs.

The two teams played each other on Sunday, with the Dbacks losing a close 2-1 game in bottom of the seventh inning. It was a “great game” says the manager, however consistency has been a problem.

“If we play up to our potential, we’re awesome.” But, adds Johnson, the team suffers from a Jekyll and Hyde complex.

In a game against Riverside on Saturday, the Dbacks were up 11-3 in the sixth inning, then surrendered 10 runs and committed seven errors in the final two frames to lose 14-13.

“We could have clinched a playoff spot at that time but we tend to do things the hard way.

“If you look at our record, we play everybody really well the first five innings, it’s the last two innings we get a little tired and the guys lose a little focus.”

In Wednesday’s games, West Kootenay’s strong pitching and tight defense proved the difference.

Tanner Johnson struck out eight, while giving up only two hits in the 3-0 win. Josh Blank went 2 for 3 with a double and two RBI.

In the second game, Troy Overn took the ball and pitched another gem, allowing only six hits with three strikeouts and two walks.

But the defense made the difference in the late innings.

With a man on in the seventh, a Deer Park batter smoked a liner to left field that looked to be going to the fence.

But Dbacks’ left fielder Tyrus Jocko, ran down and cut off the ball and threw a rope to third baseman, Evan Poznikoff, who tagged the surprised runner for the second out.

Overn struck out the next batter for the 2-0 win.

The Diamondbacks have a strong pitching rotation with good hitting. Defense has been inconsistent at times but Johnson knows what the boys are capable of and hopes to see a good team effort on the field in Spokane.

“We’re a number three seed but we can knock anybody off and we know that.”

If the Diamondbacks win the game Friday, they will stay and play Saturday in Spokane at 5:30 p.m. against the Asotin County Blues, the first seed from the west division.

Jim Bailey

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