PASCO – Down two runs with only six outs to go? Auburn Mountainview senior Nick Brooks didn’t worry.
In fact, he was confident. And with good reason.
Brooks and his Mountainview teammates have rallied from deficits all season and did so once again by scoring five runs in the sixth inning to beat Kennewick 6-4 Friday in the Class 3A state semifinals.
Auburn Mountainview will play West Seattle in the 3A state championship game at 4 p.m. Saturday. Neither school has won a state title in baseball.
“I was looking forward to the late innings,” Brooks said. “It’s the early innings that are kind of boring. When it gets to the end, those are the innings that we thrive on and those are the innings we play Mountainview baseball.”
Indeed, the script played out once more this postseason. Kennewick jumped all over Brooks, Mountainview’s ace and best hitter, in the first inning by scoring two runs. Brooks gave up two hits and two walks in the first inning and admitted afterward that he had the jitters.
Mountainview coach Glen Walker said Brooks was so amped that he was throwing 89 mph in warm-ups, which he normally doesn’t do. Brooks went all seven innings and gave up four earned runs while striking out eight.
“The whole day building up to it, the music I was listening to, I was getting in the mood that this game means a whole lot to me, the team and the community,” Brooks said. “I felt like I had to come out and show up.”
Mountainview immediately answered Kennewick when a Brooks sac fly scored a run in the bottom of the first inning.
And then the two offenses went mostly silent as Brooks and his counterpart at Kennewick, Jarrod Molnaa, found a groove. Mountainview didn’t get more than one hit in an inning through the first five innings.
Then came the sixth.
Mountainview strung together a walk from Shawn Guinn, singles from Brice McCulloch and Tyler Friis and, just as important, three Kennewick errors. Joey Cassano delivered the biggest blow when he scored two runs with a triple to centerfield.
“That’s what this team has done time and time again,” Walker said. “Being down two runs late, we don’t press because we know we’re going to get there. No surprise.”