By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Cascade baseball team moved one step closer to the state tournament on Thursday with a 8-2 victory over Kamiak in the third-place game of the 4A District 1 tournament.
The Bruins will meet Issaquah, the third-place team from Kingco, at 4 p.m. on Monday for a spot in the state tournament. The game will be at Issaquah H.S.
“I’m happy for the boys,” said Cascade head coach Scott Stencil. “They fought hard those last three games. We could have folded our tents against Edmonds-Woodway the other day, but luckily for us we got a couple of balls bounce right in the game and kind of give us a little bit of life. Baseball is a crazy game, you never know.”
The Bruins lost their opening-round game 13-2 to Monroe, the No. 3 seed from the Wesco North. Since then Cascade has won three straight, including wins over Edmonds-Woodway and Snohomish, both of the tournament’s No. 1 seeds.
“It’s a long road to get back, but I told them, ‘Somebody has to win the games, and so it might as well be us,’” Stencil said.
The Bruins fell behind 2-0 early, but recovered behind the strength of a four-run, five-hit third inning to take a lead that they never relinquished. Cascade began the bottom of the third inning trailing 2-1, but quickly loaded the bases with three consecutive singles before Kamiak coach Steve Merkley replaced his starting pitcher Brandon Gustafson with Austin Hansen. Hansen immediately got Ryan Lukas to ground into a 1-2-3 double play and it looked as though the Knights might avoid a major disaster.
The third out, however, proved difficult for Hansen to find.
Merkley called for Hansen to intentionally walk Matthew Butler, loading the bases but setting up a force out at any base. The move backfired when the next batter, Von Ferguson, doubled to center field, scoring all three runs and giving the Bruins their first lead at 4-2. Cascade added another run on a RBI single to right field by starting pitcher Ky Dye.
Two consecutive walks loaded the bases again, but Hansen got of more trouble by getting Patrick Chung to pop out to third base. Ten Cascade batters came to the plate in the inning.
“Sometimes with that momentum it just kind of keeps rolling,” Stencil said. “We get a little bit of life and the next guy steps up and puts a good swing on it and everybody kind of gets into it.”
One of the biggest reasons Cascade was able to rebound from an early deficit was the performance of Dye on the mound. Dye gave up four hits and two runs in the first two innings, but allowed just two hits and no runs the rest of the way. Dye threw a complete game, giving up six hits, walking one, hitting another and striking out three.
“He’s a competitor,” Stencil said. “He wants the ball and he’s going to compete. … A little nerves and had a couple of tough hops early and he was able to kind of respond and put a couple of zeroes after we scored and that was huge.”
Cascade added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning on RBI singles by Lukas and Ferguson.
Ferguson batted 3-for-4 with a double and five RBI.
“I was putting good swings on the ball, trying to have a good day and help my team win,” Ferguson said.
It was Ferguson’s second-straight game with five RBI — and he nearly had a sixth on his last single.
“I cost him one at the end there, I held a guy at third,” Stencil said.
Michael Mazza batted 3-for-4 with two doubles for the Bruins.
Ferguson said the long road the Bruins took through the district tournament proves how resilient the can be.
“We are fighters,” he said. “We believe that we can come through this and go to regionals and state and go far.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Everett Memorial Stadium
Brandon Gustafson, Austin Hansen (3), Brett Ludeman (4) and Wilson Kessel. Ky Dye and Michael Mazza. WP—Dye. LP—Hansen. 2B—Michael Mazza (C) 2, Von Ferguson (C). 3B—Alex Pettibone (K), Austin Pinorini (C). Records—Kamiak 15-9, Cascade 17-7.