Cascade tops Monroe in battle of top Wesco 4A baseball teams

Brock Gillis recovers from a scare on a comebacker and tosses 6 strong innings to lead the Bruins to a 5-1 win.

Cascade’s Brock Gillis throws out Monroe’s Andrew Haight at first base during a game on April 17, 2018, in Monroe. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Cascade’s Brock Gillis throws out Monroe’s Andrew Haight at first base during a game on April 17, 2018, in Monroe. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

MONROE — Even after being drilled in the back by a line-drive comebacker, Brock Gillis never lost his groove.

In fact, the Cascade sophomore pitcher insisted it helped him zero in even more.

Gillis pitched six innings of one-hit ball, leading the visiting Bruins to a 5-1 win over Monroe in the opener of a two-game Wesco 4A series Tuesday afternoon.

“After that, I felt even a little more focused,” Gillis said of the blistering, third-inning line drive that deflected off his lower back for the Bearcats’ lone hit of the game.

The initial pain left Gillis on the ground for several moments as he was tended to by Cascade coaches.

“It didn’t feel very good,” he said. “It was a stinging pain, right in the muscle.”

But after a warm-up pitch or two, Gillis shook it off and didn’t allow a hit the rest of the way. The right-hander surrendered only one run while recording five strikeouts and five walks in the cold, windy weather.

“Even (after) getting hit, he stayed competitive and figured out a way to grind through,” Bruins coach David Benson said. “He pounded the zone, commanded with both pitches, did a good job with the run game and just constantly worked ahead (and) attacked batters.

“He did a great job. Everything that we could’ve asked for.”

Cascade (9-2 overall, 5-1 Wesco 4A) broke a 1-1 tie with four runs in the top of the sixth inning, keyed by a string of four consecutive singles.

Ben Hansen kick-started the inning by reaching on a one-out error and Sam Barnes followed with a base hit. Carson Metcalfe then drove a go-ahead single into the left-center field gap to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead.

Then after a Dakota Talt single to load the bases, Jayden Talt ripped a run-scoring base hit into right field to make it 3-1. Cascade then pushed across two more runs for a 5-1 cushion.

“We were hitting balls hard all day. (They) just kind of weren’t falling,” Benson said. “But that inning we broke it open. … We were staying super aggressive in the zone. We were able to put some good swings on balls.”

With the victory, Cascade remained in sole possession of first place in Wesco 4A. The Bruins already have won three more games than they did all of last season.

“It just feels a lot better than last year,” Gillis said. “I think our team is so much stronger. … Our pitchers can carve and keep (opponents) from scoring, and our lineup is pretty solid throughout.”

Monroe (8-5, 4-3) scored its lone run in the third inning after Andrew Haight reached on the line drive off Gillis’ back. Haight came around to score on a Kegan Velie squeeze bunt for a 1-0 lead.

In the top of the fifth, Cascade senior Nicholas Klemp reached on an infield single for his third hit of the day. Courtesy runner Brody Larsen then stole second, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a two-out balk to tie the game at 1-1.

Monroe starter Ryan Lynch pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing no earned runs and six hits.

But the Bearcats’ bullpen crumbled in the sixth inning, and their bats were cold all afternoon against Gillis.

“Gillis is a really good pitcher,” Monroe coach Eric Chartrand said. “He was just better than us today.”

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