By David Krueger Herald Writer
SNOHOMISH — It took 10 innings and a new Snohomish pitcher, but the Jackson offense was finally able to piece together a rally.
With the score tied at two, the Timberwolves pounced as soon as Snohomish starter Russell Crippen was relieved, scoring four runs in the top of the 10th inning to defeat the Panthers 6-2 in the first round of the 4A District tournament Saturday afternoon at Snohomish High School.
Also on the mound in the pitcher’s duel was Jackson’s ace, Alec Kisena, who threw 117 pitches in the complete game.
“You know the two No. 1’s are going to stud up and get it done,” said Jackson head coach Kirk Nicholson. “They both did today. … They’re monsters. Both of them. You talk about guys doing it straight from the heart.”
Crippen and Kisena battled back and forth for nine innings, before Crippen was pulled in the top of the 10th after the leadoff batter reached base on an error and the next Jackson hitter grounded out to second base.
Snohomish closer Ben Dmochowsky, who is 3-0 this season with two saves, came in and the Timberwolves pounced immediately. The next three Jackson batters walked, with sophomore Aaron Avalos walking in the go-ahead run.
“You don’t know how nervous I was. I was sick to my stomach,” Avalos said. “(To have the count be) 0-2, and just to come back and battle, was great.”
After a strikeout, Timberwolves catcher Alex Kiel hit a two-run single and Kurt Miller was hit by a pitch later in the inning with the bases loaded to complete the four-run rally for Jackson.
“This is the best day of the year to coach high school baseball, to cover it, to play it,” Nicholson said. “That was fun. That was great.”
In the top of the 10th, Kisena and Nicholson had a very brief discussion about who would be pitching in the bottom half of the inning.
“I was on the coach (to stay in the game),” Kisena said. “He came up to me, I think, in the top of the 10th and he asked me if I was doing good. I was like, ‘I’m not coming out of this game. I’ve been in here this long. I might as well finish what I started.’”
Kisena then threw a 1-2-3 inning — including his 10th and 11th strikeouts of the game — to close out the win.
Snohomish coach Kim Hammons said with both teams’ star pitchers on the mound, the Panthers and Timberwolves were both playing small ball, just hoping for runs.
“Just an absolutely great game. Just a great pitching battle there between Kisena and Crippen,” Hammons said. “They both go into the 10th inning, you can’t ask for anything more than that.”
Hammons said that looking back he maybe should have pulled Crippen a little sooner, but he thought his senior pitcher gave his team the best chance to come out on top.
“He had over 100 pitches,” Hammons said. “I probably left him in too long. He wanted to stay longer. He’s a bulldog. He wanted to get out there and compete and win the ballgame. But he pitched great.”
Crippen only allowed two earned runs in 9 1/3 innings, with none coming after the fourth. The first came on an RBI single by Alex Cheesman in the top of the second, and the second came on a balk in the fourth.
Hammons said the balk was “the difference in the game.”
The Panthers battled back with a pair of RBI doubles — which accounted for half of Snohomish’s four hits. Snohomish shortstop Haakon Lande hit the first RBI double in the bottom half of the fourth, and Tanner Arrington hit the other to tie the game at two in the bottom of the sixth.
Then both teams went scoreless until the 10th.
“We had some clutch hits,” Hammons said. “Everybody was trying to put people into scoring opportunities. People were playing small ball. Arrington knocking in the second run to tie it up was big. … And then the wheels came off.”
Avalos finished the day 3-for-4 with an RBI, run scored and a walk for the Timberwolves (12-7 overall), which will face Monroe on Monday in a winner-to-state semifinal game. Jackson No. 3 3 hitter Jeremy Spring went 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored,
Snohomish (15-6) hosts Cascade Monday in a loser-out game. It will be the first time the Panthers and Bruins will face each other this season.
“They’re a quality ball club. They always are,” Hammons said. “They have good players, good pitching. I just expect a real good battle on Monday. The kids, I think they’re going to forget (Saturday’s game). They’re just going to come out Monday and compete.”
At Snohomish H.S.
Jackson 010 100 000 4—6 8 1
Snohomish 000 101 000 0—2 4 3
Alec Kisena and Alex Kiel. Russell Crippen, Ben Dmochowsky (10) and Ben Johnston. WP—Kisena. LP—Crippen. 2B—Haakon Lande (S), Tanner Arrington (S). Records—Jackson 12-7 overall. Snohomish 15-6.