QUINCY – The Ephrata Tigers and Quincy Jackrabbits baseball games determined seeding positions in the postseason, and the Tigers won swept the doubleheader.
The Tigers used a late-inning rally to defeat the Jackrabbits in game one 5-3, then carried the momentum through game two to win 8-5.
With five teams vying for the final playoff spots in the Central Western Athletic Conference standings, the sweep insured Ephrata is moving on as the fourth seed.
The two losses drop Quincy into a tie with Othello, but the Jackrabbits are the fifth seed due to sweeping the Huskies earlier in the season to earn a tiebreaker.
Quincy was in control early, building a 3-0 lead after three innings. Ephrata’s offense was kept quiet through most of the game thanks to Quincy’s starter Doug Tobin and strong defensive play behind him.
The Tigers had the makings of a rally in the fifth when an error, a hit-by-pitch and a walk loaded the bases with one out. Quincy coach Andy Harris brought in reliever Kaeden Murphy.
The Jackrabbits ended the threat when Ephrata’s suicide squeeze attempt ended in a double-play.
“It was a situation where we wanted to rattle Murphy, but the batter wasn’t squared up right and it gave them the opportunity to shut us down,” Tigers coach Jason Laugen said.
Ephrata starter Gunnar Falstad’s pitching gave the Tigers another chance in the sixth, when the error bug bit the Jackrabbits.
Ephrata’s Joey Miheleh reached first after Quincy’s Levi Garrison dropped the throw.
Tigers Zac Berryman and Ethan Etter followed with back-to-back singles to load the bases with no one out.
Cole Spencer’s single to right field brought home Miheleh to get Ephrata on the board. Falstad then cracked a two-RBI double, scoring Berryman and Etter. A fielding error by Quincy third baseman Daniel Garcia brought home Spencer, making it 4-3 Tigers.
Berryman would add an insurance run in the seventh on an RBI single that scored Tyler Lutz.
Falstad shut down the Jackrabbits for the complete game victory. He went the distance on 78 pitches, giving up one run on nine hits.
Coach Jason Laugen said he told his Tigers to set the tone early in the second game and they did not disappoint.
Ephrata took advantage of two walks and a hit-by-pitch to load the bases in the top of the first. A wild pitch from Jackrabbits starter Mark Horning allowed Tyler Lutz to score, making it 1-0 Tigers.
It only got worse for Quincy, as a Cole Spencer RBI single and a Gunnar Falstad RBI sacrifice fly made it 3-0 before the first out was in the books. Horning was pulled for a reliever after one-third of an inning.
Levi Garrison came in to try and stop the bleeding, but a Parker Ball single and a throwing error by Jacks catcher Cody Kehl gave Ephrata a 5-0 lead.
The two teams traded runs over the next six innings, and Quincy used their last at-bats in the seventh to try mounting a comeback rally of their own.
Tigers’ Cody Kehl led off with a single and was brought into score on a bases loaded walk of Nick Lopez. Joel Villafana drove in another run on a fielder’s choice. Horning spent the rest of the game as second baseman, and later added a score by stealing home.
Tigers’ reliever Travis Robertson threw to Quincy’s Hunter Rosenberger, leading to a fly out in centerfield, clinching the sweep.
Logan Moss earned the win for Ephrata, giving up three runs on eight hits in six innings, with four strikeouts and three walks on 98 pitches.
The two teams open the playoffs facing each other one more time at Ephrata’s Johnson-O’Brien Stadium, with the winner moving on to face Ellensburg and a chance to go to the district tournament.
After the game, Laugen said he expects Quincy ready to get some revenge.
“This is still a rivalry game and it’s season over for whoever loses. I’m glad we get home-field advantage, but we have to play smart baseball if we want to move on,” Laugen said.