Meridian baseball coach Steve Slesk couldn't with a clear conscience leave his starting pitcher, Chad Richter, out on the mound some 120 pitches into the game.
Albeit the sixth inning in 3-2 game in the first round of the Class 1A State Tournament, he knew his ace was getting tired.
"I can't let him hurt his arm and hurt his career," Slesk said in a phone interview. "I can't do that to a kid."
Naches Valley took advantage with Richter off the mound, adding five late runs to top the Trojans 8-2 on Saturday, May 18, in a loser-out game in the state tournament in the Moses Lake regional.
Meridian found some early offensive success against Naches Valley's ace, Koleman Johns, scoring two runs in the first after consecutive hits by Tucker Bronkema, Jeremy Brockmann and Richter. Johns inevitably settled down and only allowed one hit through the next five innings of work.
"We couldn't get anything going after the first inning," Slesk said. "He held us at bay."
Johns entered the game with 104 strikeouts on the season, making for an impressive pitchers duel between the two power arms. Richter finished the game after being pulled in the sixth with seven strikeouts and just one walk.
"This game was not indivicative of the score," Slesk added. "It was a dandy. A tight, great atmosphere."
NACHES VALLEY 8, MERIDIAN 2
Meridian 200 000 0 - 2 4 3
Naches Valley 100 025 x - 8 10 0
WP: Koleman Johns (NA). LP: Chad Richter (6-3). Highlights: Meridian: Tucker Bronkema 1-3 3B R, Jeremy Brockmann 1-3 RBI, Chad Richter 1-3 2B RBI, Davis Phillips 1-3.