By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
EVERETT — Edmonds-Woodway rode a 10-game winning streak into Tuesday’s Wesco 4A baseball game with frontrunner Cascade, putting the Warriors in position to win the league championship if they could close out the regular season by sweeping two games from the Bruins.
Cascade senior K.J. Brady made sure that didn’t happen with one swing of the bat.
Brady’s two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning rallied the Bruins from a 2-1 deficit as Cascade beat Edmonds-Woodway 4-2 to secure the league championship.
“It feels good. I’m proud of them,” Cascade head coach Scott Stencil said after the game. “It’s a good accomplishment, but what I just told them was we’ve still got a lot of work to do going into playoffs next Saturday.”
The Bruins trailed 2-1 in the fifth when sophomore Cameron McGrath doubled to deep left-center field to open the inning. Then Brady stepped to the plate.
“I was just trying to get the guy over to third so I was just trying to hit something to the right side,” Brady said. “I squared it up pretty good. I didn’t know at first if it was going to go or not, and then I kept seeing the right fielder drift back and drift back and then it went.”
Brady delivered a fist pump as he rounded first base and saw the ball had cleared the wall to give Cascade its first lead of the game.
“He just got enough and we’re happy with that,” Stencil said. “He’s been great for us all year. He’s come up clutch at other times, but when you’ve got guys like K.J., you expect them to get big hits for you and he certainly did that today.”
McGrath added an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning and finished 2-for-3 at the plate.
“He’s a heck of a player,” Stencil said of McGrath. “He’s a kid that’s the first kid to practice and the last to leave. He works hard to improve himself. He did a very good job of making good swings and making good contact.”
Most importantly for the Bruins, McGrath’s hit gave them a bigger cushion going into the final inning.
“To have a two-run lead going into the seventh as opposed to one run is a big difference,” Stencil said.
Junior Austin Pinorini, the fourth pitcher Stencil used, didn’t give up a hit in the top of the seventh and picked up the save.
Using multiple pitchers was a strategy Stencil had planned before the game.
“Our plan going in was just to kind of keep everybody fresh and use a bunch of guys,” Stencil said. “We trust all of our guys to go out and get the job done and we decided to go ahead and kind of preset our rotation (for the playoffs) today and Edmonds-Woodway did kind of a similar thing with (starting pitcher) Tate (Budnick). That was just sort of a preset plan. We were going to look at a bunch of guys and see how they reacted and competed.”
Stencil couldn’t have been more happy with what he saw. Brady, juniors Kelly King, Bryson Blackmore and Pinorini combined to allow just five hits and didn’t allow a run after the first inning.
“I thought everybody did a very good job,” Stencil said. “Kelly came in there in the third and threw the ball very well. He gave us two really quick innings and made me think about my strategy and make me want to leave him in, but I decided to stick with my plan and Bryson came in and threw the ball very well and changed speeds and was able to get out of that crucial situation and then Austin came in in the seventh and did what he does, which is closeout games.”
Winning a league championship was one of the Bruins goals this season, but they also seek a district championship and would like to improve on their showing last year at state, where they advanced to the quarterfinals.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” Brady said. “We’re obviously not done yet. It’s good to achieve it, but we’ve still got to be ready to go for districts because that’s when it really starts to matter.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on Twitter at @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Cascade H.S.
Edmonds-Woodway 200 000 0 — 2 5 2
Cascade 010 021 x — 4 7 2
Tate Budnick, Brady Edwards (3) and Mac McLachlan, Budnick (3). K.J. Brady, Kelly King (3), Bryson Blackmore (5), Austin Pinorini (7) and Von Ferguson. WP—Blackmore (3-0). LP—Edwards (3-2). S—Pinorini. 2B—Jason Smarr (E-W), Cameron McGrath (C). HR—K.J. Brady (C). Records—Edmonds-Woodway 10-4 league, 12-7 overall. Cascade 12-2, 16-3.