Locals shine at feeder doubleheader


BELLINGHAM - Chad Richter and Jeremy Brockmann could not have been much more impressive on the last day the longtime buddies wore Meridian uniforms.

Nor could they have been much more enthusiastic as both earned nominations for the annual all-state baseball series.

Richter shook off three unearned runs in the first inning to retire the final 10 hitters he faced in a four-inning stint to highlight the Whatcom County-dominated Americans' 9-3 victory over the Nationals in the annual Class 1A/B feeder doubleheader on Thursday, May 30, at Joe Martin Field.

Richter gave up only one hit (a bunt), struck out three and walked none while using the poise he hopes will stand him in good stead at Centralia College following this summer on the Post 7 American Legion team along with Brockmann.

"That was really impressive. He looked like that (the Americans' three first-inning errors) didn't even faze him," said Nooksack Valley coach Scott Gelwicks of Richter, who earned the Mal Walton Award as the top player from Whatcom County.

Brockmann, who was recruited to Centralia primarily for his power hitting, followed Richter with three shutout innings, allowing only one solid hit and two in all while striking out three.

In the second game, Blaine's Zach Rector and Nooksack's Brandon Valnes each pitched three shutout innings and struck out five batters apiece in the Americans' 2-0 victory, giving the four Whatcom County pitchers 13 innings without an earned run.

Cedar Park Christian's Micah Patterson received the Al Evans Award for players from the south.

Aside from Richter and Brockmann, the only other Whatcom County player to gain a nomination was Blaine catcher Matt Vogee, who went 3 for 4 in the first game, scored twice and drove in a run. Vogee also threw out a would-be base stealer to end the game.

Brockmann grinned when asked just how much fun it was - despite dreary weather - to participate in one of the high spots he has enjoyed during many games with Richter.

"(Call us) The Boys of Summer!" Brockmann said, savoring the prospect of baseball in spring, summer and fall (community colleges such as Centralia also play an extensive fall program).

"It sure feels good to be here tonight," said Richter, who quickly became friends with Brockmann in middle school when Jeremy moved to the area in sixth grade.

"Jeremy was just a little shy guy (Brockmann is now a solid 6-foot-1, 215 pounds)," the 6-5 Richter said. "We were in a school outdoors camp together and we've been friends ever since."

Like any good friend would want to do, Brockmann helped pull Richter out of a 3-0 hole. Brockmann drilled a long run-scoring fly in the first inning and doubled in the fourth inning. Following a single by Meridian teammate Tucker Bronkema, Vogee hit tied the game 3-3 in the fourth.

The Americans scored six runs over the final three innings. Mount Baker's Titus Balvanz finished 2 for 5 including a two-run single, while Nooksack's Joey Scheffer went 2 for 4 including the hit that produced the go-ahead run when combined with an error.

In the second game, Nooksack's Tyler Cienfuegos snapped a scoreless tie by scoring on an error in the fourth. Richter singled with two outs and Balvanz singled home the second run.

Mount Baker's Tyrel Cronk played for the Nationals to balance out the roster along with teammates Kaleb Brownfield and Nick Larson. Cronk's double off the left-field fence was the hardest hit of the doubleheader, but winning pitcher Rector stranded Cronk by striking out two batters.

Cronk's double was the only hit Rector allowed. Valnes was also impressive, fanning three consecutive batters on called strikes in the fourth and allowing two hits and no walks.

All told, the four Whatcom County pitchers struck out 16 in the 13 innings while giving up only six hits and three walks.

The other all-state nominees were La Conner's Tyler Howlett, Christian Johnson and Tanner Cyr, South Whidbey's Aaron Curfman and Cedar Park's Peter Tissell. Nominees were chosen based two-thirds on the regular season and one-third on the feeder games.

The all-state teams will be announced early next week for games June 8-9 at Yakima's County Stadium.

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