By Scott Whitmore / Herald Writer
KENT – The Cascade baseball team scratched and clawed its way into elite company Saturday – the state Class 4A semifinals.
The Bruins defeated Curtis 3-2 in the first round and returned to defeat Puyallup 12-10 in the state quarterfinals at Kent Memorial Park.
“Only four teams have not turned in their gear,” Cascade coach Pat Opel said after the Bruins’ victory against Puyallup.
Cascade plays the winner of Saturday night’s Southridge-Richland game on Friday at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma. Game time is 4 p.m.
The semifinals seemed a distant hope with Puyallup holding a 10-7 lead in the top of the seventh inning.
That’s when the Bruins , who trailed 7-0 after the first inning, mounted their second comeback of the game.
Cascade’s Mike Stone reached on an error, chasing Puyallup starter Josh Harris. Vikings reliever Troy Kuzminsky lasted just two batters, walking Todd Brenaman and pinch hitter Jeff Hulskamp to load the bases.
Cascade’s Matt Christie greeted reliever Garrett Wester with a two-run double into the left field corner for his fourth and fifth RBI of the game. Clayton Shaw followed with an RBI single to tie the score at 10-10.
Shaw was caught in a rundown after Wester’s pickoff throw caught the Bruin leading too far off the bag. While Shaw was eluding the tag, Christie scored from third base to give Cascade an 11-10 lead.
Shaw advanced to second during the rundown, moved to third on Jeff Mugge’s single and scored when Nick Fischer’s single capped the five-run rally, increasing Cascade’s lead to 12-10.
Cascade starter Brad McGava lasted just 2/3 of the first inning and allowed seven runs before being relieved by Matt Bannister.
Bannister proceeded to shut down the Vikings’ offense, allowing just two hits and no runs over the next five innings.
“(Matt Bannister) gave our bats a chance to do what we know they can do,” Opel said of Bannister’s performance.
Tanner Graden’s two-out triple in the top of the fourth sparked a four-run rally. Mike Stone’s RBI single produced one run, Christie had a two-run single and another run scored on Mike Chiarelli’s bases loaded walk.
Cascade tied the score in the top of the fifth with a three-run rally. One run scored when Christie was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, and Shaw’s two-run single evened the score at 7-7.
In Cascade’s first-round game against Curtis, Stone hit a two-run seventh-inning single to break a 1-1 tie and send the Bruins to the second round.
Mugge, McGava (7) and Chiarelli. Deal, Sharp (8), Ogle (9) and Dougherty. WP-McGava (6-2). LP-Ogle. 2B-Christie (Ca), Shaw (Ca), McGava (Ca), Graden (Ca), Hansen (Cu), Freeman (Cu). HR-Sobczak (Cu). Records-Cascade 16-8 overall. Curtis 15-9.
McGava, Bannister (1), Shaw (6) and Chiarelli. Harris, Kuzminsky (7), Wester (7) and Ruff. WP-Shaw. LP-Wester. 2B-Christie (C), White (P),. 3B-Graden (C). Records-Cascade 17-8 overall. Puyallup 16-10.