By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
MILL CREEK — Through six innings, Cascade’s baseball team was getting lots of hits, but not a lot of runs.
In the seventh inning the Bruins got both.
Batting around in the last inning, Cascade combined four hits, a Jackson error and a sacrifice fly for four runs that turned a 2-1 nail-biter into an eventual 6-1 Wesco 4A victory over the Timberwolves on a sunny Tuesday afternoon.
The visiting Bruins finished with 14 hits, led by sophomore first baseman Brennen Hancock, who had four in as many at-bats to go with three runs batted in.
“I felt good,” Hancock said. “I’ve been slumping a little bit the past couple of games, so it felt good to come through for my team when they needed me. Hopefully this continues.”
It was Hancock who gave the Bruins the lead for good in the fourth inning, driving in two runs with a two-out bases-loaded single. The left-handed hitter had taken a first-pitch fastball for a strike, and then guessed right on a curve ball that he sent the other way to left-center field.
In the seventh, and with the bases loaded again, Hancock sent a long drive near the left-center wall. It should have been a double, but he ended up with a long RBI single due to some base-running confusion by the lead runners.
The bottom four hitters in Cascade’s lineup totaled nine of the team’s 14 hits. No. 6 hitter Von Ferguson had two, No. 7 Casey Bergmans had one, Hancock had four at No. 8, and No. 9 Cameron McGrath had two.
“We’ve had some good success with our (entire) lineup this year,” Bruins coach Scott Stencil said. “We’ve been fortunate that when our main guys aren’t getting it done, guys like Brennen have stepped up. When you get (good) efforts from those kids who are not necessarily your top four hitters, that makes your lineup even deeper.
“It was great to see some different guys step up for us and provide a spark,” he said.
Other top contributors for the Bruins were Austin Pinorini, who was 3-for-3 (he reached base a fourth time on a sacrifice throwing error) and scored two runs. Third baseman Taylor Marquardt was 1-for-4 and scored twice.
Meanwhile, Cascade starting pitcher Bryson Blackmore checked Jackson through four-plus innings, giving up just one run on six hits with no walks and two strikeouts. And in the third inning, when Jackson had one run in and runners at second and third with one out, Blackmore got the final two outs on an infield popup and an outfield fly.
“That was kind of a big momentum swing for us,” Stencil said. “We were able to get those two outs without giving up a second or a third run, and then the next inning we were able to score two and kind of turn the tables.
“Bryson threw the ball really well,” he added. “He’s a crafty kid. He’ll change speeds a lot and keep hitters off balance, and I thought he did a good job of that against a good lineup. And when he had a little adversity (in the third), he was able to get out of that jam.”
Relief pitcher Kelly King pitched three scoreless innings for the save, though Jackson made it interesting in the seventh by loading the bases with one out. But King then retired the final two hitters on a popup and a fielder’s choice.
“We expected a close game,” Stencil said. “Whenever it’s Cascade-Jackson is going to be a good rivalry, but we were able to come up with a couple of big hits at the right times and that was really the difference.”
“Cascade’s a really good team,” T-wolves coach Kirk Nicholson said. “You can be in a 2-1 game with them, and then you make a couple of mistakes and it becomes a 6-1 game. But the truth is, we had a chance at the end with the bases loaded.
“But there’s always a thing about pressure,” he said. “The team that handles the pressure best wins the game. Well, obviously every time we pressured them they handled it better than we handled the pressure.”
Catcher Alex Kiel was the only Jackson player with two hits, both singles.
At Jackson H.S.
Cascade 000 200 4—6 14 2
Jackson 001 000 0—1 7 3
Bryson Blackmore, Kelly King (5) and Von Ferguson; Tyler Wingert, Kellen Woods (7) and Alex Kiel. WP—Blackmore, LP—Wingert. 2B—Keynan Foster (J). Records—Cascade is 10-1 in league, 14-2 overall. Jackson is 7-4, 9-6.