The Bruins got off to a better start this year, thanks to some timely hitting, a few Jackson errors and some lucky breaks as Cascade defeated Jackson 3-2 in a Wesco South 4A game Monday at Cascade High School.
"We know these are all going to be close games," said Bruins' head coach Scott Stencil. "I think we got a couple bounces today that were fortunate, and that was kind of the difference.
"Kisena's a great pitcher. We had a real close game with them last year, the same two guys (pitching) and they beat us 1-0. This year a couple balls just bounced our way and that's kind of how it goes.
"It just comes down to a play or two and we were just fortunate to come out on the right side this year, where last year we didn't," Stencil said.
One of those lucky bounces for Cascade was a bloop RBI single by K.J. Brady in the bottom of the fourth inning that turned out to be the difference in the game. It was the only RBI for a Cascade player, with the Bruins' other two runs scoring on errors by the Timberwolves.
Only one of the three runs Cascade scored off Kisena was earned. The other two runs came on errors by the Jackson third baseman. With the bases loaded and two outs in the second, the Timberwolves' third baseman bobbled a ball, allowing Cascade's Ryan Lukas to score.
In the third inning with runners on first and second with nobody out, a throwing error after a bunt by Cascade's Danny Townsend allowed Patrick Chung to score.
The damage could have been worse on the throwing error, but Michael Mazza was thrown out in a close play at home. Looking back, Stencil said he should have held Mazza at third base.
"I wish I hadn't sent him," Stencil said. "We had a chance to have a big inning and I knew it was going to be a close play and in retrospect, I really wish I hadn't run us out of the inning. I wish I would've left him at third and seen what would've happened with no outs. I made that decision kind of spur of the moment -- like you usually do in the third-base box -- and it was a very close play that could have gone either way. It went against us unfortunately."
The Bruins (8-1, 12-2) had to settle for one run in that inning, tying Jackson at 2-2, before Brady's RBI single in the fourth.
Cascade's Ky Dye (4-1) also pitched a five-hitter, striking out eight and allowing one earned run. The junior, who threw "right around 100" pitches according to Stencil, has been the top pitcher for Cascade this season.
"He's been very good. He's our No. 1 and we expect him to come out and throw strikes," Stencil said. "We try to match him up against the other team's No. 1 and see what happens. Last year we had the same matchup and Kisena beat us twice -- shut us out twice -- so I knew it was going to be low-scoring (game)."
Dye worked out of a jam in the top of the second inning, when the first three Jackson batters reached base. Dye struck out the next three Timberwolves to get out of the inning.
It was more than Stencil could have hoped for.
"Honestly, I was hoping we'd (only) give up one. When you have the bases loaded and no outs your goal, really, is to try to give up one," he said. "You try to limit the damage. ... He's pretty competitive and he stepped up and was able to throw a couple good pitches at the right time and get out of it."
No Bruin batter had more than one of the five hits Kisena allowed.
"It wasn't really one guy individually," Stencil said. "I thought we did a good job of getting (Kisena's) pitch count up early a little bit which helped us out. But I don't think it was really one guy. We left some opportunities out there, and so did they, and just a couple bounces we got. And we were lucky to get those."
Stencil hopes the breaks keep coming as Cascade prepares to play five games in five days this week. The Bruins have a three-game series with Jackson that continues today and Thursday and a makeup game against Kamiak on Wednesday before a three-game series with Edmonds-Woodway starts on Friday.
The Cascade coach also has one more request for the Bruins' busy week.
"We'll come back tomorrow and I expect another close game," Stencil said. "... We've got five games this week and hopefully the sun stays out. We'll go out and I expect us to be in five close games. Let's keep the sun coming."
Alek Baumgartner led Jackson, going 2-for-3 with an RBI. Kisena also went 2-for-3.
Timberwolves' coach Kirk Nicholson said that his team isn't panicking. Jackson (5-5 league, 7-6 overall), which got to the first round of the state tournament last year, is still above .500 almost three-quarters of the way through the season.
"Panic is the farthest thing we've got going," Nicholson said. "We're getting our work in, we're trying to get better and hopefully when we get to that first round of playoffs we're ready to go."
Nicholson didn't expect any emotional hangover for the Timberwolves when they face Cascade again today.
"You grab a bat, you warm up and you get going," he said. "Every day is a different game."
At Cascade H.S.
Jackson 002 000 0--2 5 3
Cascade 011 100 x--3 5 1
Alec Kisena, Jaris Beasley (5) and Alex Kiel. Ky Dye and Michael Mazza. WP--Dye (4-1). LP--Kisena. 2B--Ryan Lukas (C). Records--Jackson 5-5 league, 7-6 overall. Cascade 8-1, 12-2.
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