Richard puts together strong outing in Class 2A/3A/4A Northwest Regional Feeder Game


BELLINGHAM -- Matt Richard is that rare Washington baseball player who can say he's headed for a World Series champion.

The way the clever left-hander used his off-speed artistry in the Class 2A/3A/4A Northwest Regional Feeder Games showed why the Bellingham senior someday hopes to wind up playing in a World Series of his own for recently crowned NCAA Division III World Series winner Linfield College.

Richard, overcoming the confusion of being asked to play for both teams in the same game, finished by pitching an impressive final four innings for the Nationals in their 6-2 loss to the Americans in the opening game on Saturday, June 1, at Joe Martin Field.

The only run against Richard was unearned, and he did not allow a hit or a walk.

Richard was among 10 nominees to play in the all-state series in Yakima on Saturday and Sunday, June 8-9. Teams will be announced early this week.

Nominees were selected on the basis of two-thirds overall season, one-third feeder series. Other Whatcom County nominees are Lynden's Tanner Olson and Luke Christianson, Ferndale's Austyn Sprague and Sehome's Jacob Manson.

The two special honors for the feeder series went to Sehome's Brice Longanecker (the Mal Walton Award for Whatcom County players) and Archbishop Murphy's Zander Clouse (the Al Evans Award for players from schools south of Whatcom).

"I was really excited watching the DIII Series on-line," said Richard, who said he was greatly inspired to see former New York Yankees World Series MVP Scott Brosius coach Linfield to the small-college championship.

"They also have a junior varsity team, so I'm hoping to get some playing time (one way or another) right away," said Richard, who fully realizes how difficult it is for a freshman to start on a top-notch team at any college level. "I'm excited because most of their players are coming back."

Richard already has earned two academic scholarships and will take a 3.9 grade-point average to the Oregon college.

"It was weird how I played for both teams today," said Richard, who also scored a run in the Americans' five-run second inning in the opening game. "I just tried to pound the strike zone, because I know I'm not going to blow the ball by anybody. I threw a lot of curves."

Longanecker started the second game and pitched three scoreless innings to gain the victory as the Nationals claimed a 10-3 win. Like Richard, he did not allow a walk.

Longanecker, who went 2 for 3 with a double and drove in both Nationals runs in the opener, is looking forward to playing in the sun after he joins Richard on the Post 7 American Legion team this summer. In all, 11 of the feeder game all-stars are playing for Post 7.

"I really want the sun," said Longanecker, explaining one reason he decided to play for Gateway Community College in Arizona after he originally had selected Yakima Community College. "You bet, I'm really ready for the sun."

Longanecker, a lifelong Bellingham resident, will attend the Arizona college along with baseball-playing brother Forrest, who also was among the 38 boys who participated in the feeder series. Brice was the only Sehome senior this year to play varsity football, basketball and baseball.

Longanecker's strong three-inning stint capped an outstanding week for Whatcom County pitchers in both Class 1A/B and 2A/3A/4A feeder games. In 29 innings over four games, eight locals combined to allow only three earned runs.

In the final inning of the first game Saturday, it was fitting college football scholarship winners Josh Kraght, Zach Vis and Matt Meyer of Lynden all got to bat for one final time in school baseball, especially since they aren't playing summer ball while preparing for football. Kraght, who had been 0 for 3 with two strikeouts, singled and scored on a hit by Brice Longanecker following a grass-scorching single in Meyer's last at-bat.

"I was just trying to have some fun," said the 285-pound Meyer, who struck out in his first three at-bats.

"I got lucky," said Kraght. "I was just up there swinging. Yeah, I'll miss baseball."

Vis, who flew out hard in his last at-bat, couldn't help kidding his lifelong buddies after they razzed him for going hitless, albeit after slamming a hard liner to center in the first inning.

"At least I didn't strike out!" Vis retorted to Kraght and Meyer, who just grinned back at Vis.

Five Lynden players left right after the first game for the school's senior party (their feeder games were postponed Tuesday and Wednesday, and they had originally expected to be free all day Saturday).

Olson, whose feeder program line listed a 10-0 record, had no luck at all. He gave up four unearned runs in the first game and went 1 for 4 but had two hits denied by outstanding fielding plays. Actually, he wasn't responsible for any of the five runs against him. But scoring rules say a blown potential double play, involving an error no less, with one out and the bases loaded still accounts for one earned run, since a double play can not be anticipated.

Archbishop Murphy catcher Alex Galgano, who slammed a three-run double off Olson, was among five Southern players who earned all-state nominations. The others were Clouse, Anacortes' Billy King, Burlington's Dalton Schwetz and Sedro-Woolley's Austin Schuetzle.

In the second game, Bellingham's Alex Check went 3 for 5 for the Americans. For the Nationals, Sehome's Manson went 2 for 4 with 4 RBIs, including a two-run double, and Ferndale's Zach Cutsforth was 3 for 5 with a double, two runs and an RBI. Sehome's Daniel Goebel went 3 for 4 and Tyler Knutsen was 2 for 5 with a double.

Sehome's Brant Wark chipped in a hit, giving the four Mariners who batted No. 3 through 6 a total of eight hits for the second game.

In the opening game, Ferndale's Marshall Weston doubled and Bellingham's Aaron Burke singled to help the Americans prevail. Burke's one-out single led to a run and helped make possible the five-run second inning.

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