Over a century ago, Baltimore Oriole right fielder “Wee Willie” Keeler made famous the phrase: “Hit ‘em where they ain’t”.
Last Saturday night in a game against Bellevue, Woodinville’s Brent Donlan embodied that philosophy. It was his basesloaded bunt that blooped over the pitcher’s head that gave the Falcons a thrilling 6-5 comeback win.
“The pitcher threw one and left it up,” Donlan said. “I bunted it and you know what? It fell.”
The fact that the Falcons (6-4) were in the game at all was a testament to their tenacity. After losing starting pitcher Liam Herlihy in the second inning to a groin pull, and then surrendering 5 runs to Bellevue in the top of the fourth, the 5-1 deficit presented a tough obstacle.
But the Woodinvilles chipped away. In the bottom of the 4th, catcher Chris Okura lined an RBI double that scored Drew Acciums. Then Trevor Cook was sent home after a balk was called on Bellevue pitcher Isaac Lee. This trimmed the deficit to 5-3.
In the bottom of the sixth, Derek Svanevik drilled a double to score Brent Donlan, and Nick Mikulka singled home Svanevik, to knot the game up at 5-5.
Then came the crazy bottom of the seventh. Accimus led off with a double, and was moved along to third via a sacrifice bunt by Trevor Cook. Bellevue manager Pete Wilkinson called time and proceeded to do something this sportswriter has never before seen. Wilkinson issued back-to-back intentional walks to Okura and Matt Quarre to load the bases.
With one out and the sacks jammed with Falcons, Brent Donlan stepped to the plate. He took the first pitch for a ball, then looked toward coach Alan DIllman down the third base line. The Woodinville manager flashed the bunt sign.
Bellevue’s Isaac Lee delivered a pitch up in the strike zone, and Donlan squared to bunt, sending a blooper over Lee’s outstretched glove and into no-man’s land toward second base. Accimus crossed home plate with the winning run, as Woodinville fans erupted in cheers and Falcon players happily mobbed Donlan.
“That was pretty crazy, huh?” Dillman said afterward. “I think they were just hoping that we would hit into a double play.”
Dillman praised Donlan, who recovered from a severe injury to his orbital socket a year ago, and Saturday against Bellevue went 3-for4 with 2 RBIs.
“Brent was playing for us quite a bit early in the season and struggled to hit,” Dillman said. “We’ve been working with him, and he hadn’t played in awhile. And for him to come out today and hit one off the fence, and then he’s squeezin’ to win a ball game, I’m happy to see his hard work paying off for him.”
Also deserving of credit were Woodinville’s relievers who spelled the injured Herlihy. Trevor Cook got the win by pitching a scoreless 7th inning.
“When I come in to pitch I just try to pound the zone and throw strikes,” Cook said. “If you can throw strikes, it gives your fielders a chance to make plays. My mentality there was to attack and my fielders backed me up there.”
Dillman also praised Matt Quarre and sophomore Derek Dardzinski.
“Matt and Derek both hadn’t thrown hardly at all this year,” Dillman said. “With the week we’ve had, we used more pitching than we expected, so we knew that both those guys would have to throw today. And then Liam got hurt and they had to come in earlier than expected... They both threw strikes and gave us a chance defensively. They did a good job for us.”