Just three weekends into a long spring, the Columbia Basin College baseball team already is plenty educated in the drama of the game.
Now, the Hawks are learning how much fun it can be.
Seth Lochridge's pinch-hit sacrifice fly in the 10th inning completed a rally that started with a three-run uprising in the bottom of the ninth as CBC tagged Lower Columbia 4-3 to complete a nonregional sweep of the visitors from Longview on Saturday.
The Hawks opened the day with a 7-6 win, surviving a four-run ninth by the Red Devils (2-3) before Joey Jansen slammed the door shut with one out and the sacks full.
It amounted to a soothing balm for a CBC team that dropped five of its first eight, including losses by 19, nine and nine runs while getting swept by Tacoma last weekend and Prairie the weekend before. And it brough a lot of smiles to the Hawks dugout.
"We had to come out and prove something," said sophomore second baseman Chris Brunetti. "Those last two weekends, that wasn't us playing. This is us."
That was Brunetti in the ninth lacing a liner to center that got by LC outfielder Sean Rehon and scored Austin Say and Jansen to tie the game at 3-all.
Two innings earlier, Brunetti hit a ball with two on and two out that had a chance to tie the game at 2 but hung up long enough for right fielder Robbie Groeschell to track it.
This time, the ball got down just enough.
"I was saying, 'Die!'" Brunetti recalled of running to first with the play in front of him. "Then I saw him dive, saw the ball get by. And I was jumping up (as) the ball (bounced up), and my feet got caught up and I tripped."
Indeed, Brunetti stumbled around first and wound up settling for a double rather than likely standing at third with no out.
Though the Hawks failed to bring him home, it all worked out in the 10th when Jeremy Holden singled through the middle, advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches and came around on Lochridge's fly to center.
The rally got the win for Chris Cecil, who provided three innings of two-hit ball. And it took starter Arty Reyes off the hook after the sophomore delivered his best start in three outings.
On a day when the wind was blowing out, Reyes kept his pitches down, induced mostly grounders and worked efficiently through Lower Columbia's lineup. He struck out four and walked two, demonstrating his best control yet after fixing a couple of mechanical issues during the week.
"I went after them and let the defense make plays, and they did," said Reyes, who made just one mistake on the day, leaving a first-pitch slider a little too fat over the plate that LC's Zach Slesk turned into a two-run triple in the third.
"When I gave up those two runs," Reyes said, "all I could do is keep putting up zeros and hope the runs would come across sometime."
The Hawks jumped out in the opener with a four-run first inning thanks to RBI singles from Jake Azevedo and Lochridge and bases-loaded walks to Erick Raynes and Say.
Brunetti was in the middle of a pair of insurance runs in the eighth, hitting an RBI triple and then scoring on Cecil's single.
CBC needed those runs as two errors, a single and two bases-loaded walks put the game in jeopardy. But Jansen came in from center field to get a pair of fly balls -- the first a difficult wind-blown ball that Raynes tracked down back of first -- for the save. He preserved the win for Jon Rapose, who threw six innings of four-hit ball and gave up just one earned run.
The wins brought a smile to the face of coach Steve Farrington, though he was a little put off by his team's five errors in the first game. The defense was much better in the nightcap, with Holden laying out full for a catch in right field, and first baseman Kolby Haliewicz making a couple of nice scoops in the dirt.
"The routine plays you expect to be handled," Farrington said, "and then those things really matter -- the diving catch, the web gems."
Lower Columbia 010 010 004 -- 6 6 0
Columbia Basin 400 001 02x -- 7 12 5
Stuart Fewel, Max Dickinson (5) and Jake Schrader; Jon Rapose, Mike Sulser (7), Chris Cecil (9), Joey Jansen (9) and Craig McAlpin. Highlights--Rapose (CBC) 6IP-4H-1ER-3BB-4K; Chris Brunetti (CBC) 3x4, 3B, RBI, 2R; Cecil (CBC) 2x4, RBI; McAlpin (CBC) 2x5, R; Seth Lochridge (CBC) 2x3, R, RBI; Schrader (LC) 2x3, 2B, 2R, RBI; Slesk (LC) 2B; Williams (LC) 2x5, RBI.
Lower Columbia 002 000 001 0 -- 3 7 1
Columbia Basin 000 000 003 1 -- 4 10 2
Brandon Boyle, Nolan Amundson (8) and Cody O'Neil; Arty Reyes, Chris Cecil (8) and Jake Azevedo, McAlpin (9). Highlights--Brunetti (CBC) 2B, 2 RBI; Jeremy Holden (CBC) 2x5, R; Larry Price-Lomas (CBC) 2x2, R, BB, HBP.