By David Krueger Herald Writer
EVERETT — The 4A winner-to-state game between Jackson and Ballard started a little early Monday night at Everett Memorial Stadium.
So did the Timberwolves’ offense.
Led by a two-run home run by Traishawn Patrick, Jackson scored three runs in the first inning — which started three minutes ahead of schedule — en route to a 10-3 victory, clinching a spot in next weekend’s regional round of the 4A state tournament.
Jackson, which finished second at last year’s 4A state tourney, plays Todd Beamer at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Heidelberg Field in Tacoma.
“When we were 5 and 7 early in the season. … I wasn’t thinking we’d get to this place,” said Jackson head coach Kirk Nicholson. “But I’m pretty happy with it.”
In the bottom of the first, it took Jackson all of two batters to get on the scoreboard. Sam Brown led off with a single and scored on a triple by Alex Baumgartner. Three batters later, Baumgartner strolled home after Patrick hit a long home run over the left-center field wall to give the Timberwolves a 3-0 lead.
“I just saw my pitch and hit it,” Patrick said.
Those three runs were enough for Jackson starter Brown (3-1), who pitched five innings. The University of Arizona-bound player scattered three hits — with the first one coming in the top of the fourth inning — and struck out six batters. He allowed two runs.
It was just Brown’s third start of the season, according to Nicholson.
“He’s just kind of getting into it,” Nicholson said. “The kid has heart. … He gives you everything he’s got.”
Brown said he didn’t think he had his best stuff on the mound, but thought he’d be “good enough to win.”
“I like to feel like if we get runs on the board, I can get a W,” Brown said. “It’s a great feeling when the team has your back.”
Brown helped himself out at the plate, going 2-for-5 with a double, two RBI and two runs scored. Patrick, who will play at Bellevue College next season, went 2-for-4 with the home run, a double and three RBI. Baumgartner (2-for-4) also drove in two runs.
In all the Timberwolves had 15 hits, more than double Ballard’s hit total (six).
“Our kids came out and swung it pretty well today,” Nicholson said. “I’m happy with how the guys swung the bats.”
The game was a crossover district contest between the No. 3 seeds out of the Wesco and Kingco conferences, with the winner taking the District’s 1/2 No. 3 seed to the regional round of the state tournament.
The winner of the Jackson-Todd Beamer game plays a quarterfinal game at 4 p.m. Saturday.
After a rough start, the Timberwolves (15-9 overall) finished the regular season with four straight wins and went 4-1 in the district tournament — its lone loss coming to eventual district champion Lake Stevens in a semifinal game.
Patrick said there was no chance the Timberwolves were going to lose Monday night.
“I knew we had it in us. We just had to play the kind of ball we could play as a team,” Patrick said. “Today was our day. We just knew this was a loser-out game. We weren’t done. We had a lot left in us.”
At Everett Memorial Stadium
Paul Crane, Damani Nkeiruka (3), Caleb Jaeger (3) and Frank Airey. Sam Brown, Tyler Wingert (6), Alec Kisena (7) and Colby Johansen. WP—Brown (3-1). LP—Crane. 2B—Brown (J), Traishawn Patrick (J). 3B—Alex Baumgartner (J). HR—Patrick (J). Records—Ballard 15-8 overall. Jackson 15-9.