For four weeks, the Columbia Basin College baseball team has been entertaining NWAACC teams from the west side hoping to get out of the rain.
Today, the “spring training” portion of the schedule ends and the games start counting for real.
The Hawks (8-8) play a pair of East Region games against visiting Spokane (9-7), with the doubleheader slated for 1 p.m. On Saturday, CBC goes on the road for the first time this season with a trip to Pendleton to take on Blue Mountain (2-14).
The pre-regional schedule has been an up-and-down affair for the Hawks. They opened with five straight splits, then swept Skagit Valley, split again and finished being swept by Edmonds.
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“If you had asked me two weekends ago, I would have said we looked good going into (regional play),” said first-year coach Chris Staton, who replaces Steve Farrington and played for CBC in 2002-03. “Last weekend, we didn’t play defense really well, made a lot of errors on routine plays, and that worries me a little bit.
“Hopefully we’ll turn that around.”
In their eight wins, the Hawks have outscored opponents 95-23. In the eight losses, it is 82-32 the other way. Only five games have been decided by three or fewer runs — CBC is 2-3 in those close games — making for feast-or-famine results.
Offensively, the Hawks are feasting, hitting .318 with 42 extra-base hits and scoring nearly eight runs a game.
A trio of former Richland players have been the team’s biggest run producers, as Kenton Brunson and Dalton Johnson each have a team-leading 16 RBIs and Zach Rapacz has 15.
Johnson, a freshman outfielder, is off to a phenomenal start, hitting .362 with five doubles, three triples and four stolen bases in seven attempts.
Ryan Atkinson, a freshman shortstop from Snoqualmie, is hitting .387 with a team-high 17 runs scored and five steals in eight attempts. Second basemen Nick Savas (West Seattle, .407) and Jordan Webb (Seattle, .387) and outfielder Jordan Feeney (Boise, .394) also have hit well splitting playing time as CBC tried out various lineups in the pre-regional schedule.
The Hawks also have been active on the base paths, with 42 steals in 71 attempts (59 percent successful).
CBC has had mixed results on the mound. Southridge’s Chad Bettinson (2-0, 1.50 ERA in 12 IP) and Brandon Call (1-0, 2.51 ERA in 14 1/3 IP) have had solid starts, and Pasco’s Ethan Cantu (1.35 ERA in 13 1/3 IP) and Southridge’s Daniel Neville (2.53 in 10 2/3) have been solid in relief.
But the team ERA is 5.29, the WHIP is 1.598, and the staff has 73 walks and 24 hit batters against 81 strikeouts. On the bright side, CBC has allowed only 22 extra-base hits, less than three per doubleheader.
“We don’t have a ton of arms to begin with,”said Staton, who had a short recruiting season after being hired June 13. “Four games in two days is kind of tough. Everybody’s going to throw a little bit.”
Around the east: As teams from around the East Region come to town, fans will have a chance to reconnect with some former area prep standouts.
Among the 38 area players in the NWAACC, 34 reside in the East, and more than half of those are at Walla Walla.
Discounting the Wa-Hi players that naturally matriculate to the Warriors, that leaves 11 players from the Tri-Cities. Eight of those are from Richland or Hanford high schools.
A quick look at the team leaders reads like a who’s who of former area standouts: Ryan Neal (Hanford, .444, 11 RBI), Trevor Jones (Hanford, .371, 3 2Bs), Jarod Gonzales (Kennewick, .356, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 12 BB, 1K, 14 R), Corey Morris (Richland, .310, 5 2B, 11 RBI, 12 R) and Cody Poznanski (Richland, .302, 10 RBI, 8 R) at the plate; Drew Christina (Walla Walla, 1-1, 1.56 ERA, 25K, 7 BB in 23 IP) and Jesse Houser (Kamiakin, 3-1, 3.00, 18K, 9 BB in 21 IP) on the mound.
The Warriors (8-8) open at Wenatchee Valley (5-7), which has its own Kamiakin connection with former Braves standout Dustin Willis at the helm and four more players on the field, led by Blake Raekes (.344 in 32 AB).
BIG BEND — Sam Guin, so., OF, Kennewick; Daniel Deaton, fr., P, Kiona-Benton; Jordan Higley, fr., P, Kennewick; Spencer Cordiero, fr., 3B, Walla Walla; Jacob Yamane, fr., INF, Warden; Shelby Harty, fr., P, Connell.
BLUE MOUNTAIN — Marcos Macias, fr., 2B, Kennewick; Corleone Lewis, so., INF, Hermiston.
SPOKANE — Oz Bartleson, so., OF, Southridge; Conor Hamilton, fr., C, Othello.
WENATCHEE VALLEY — Justin Berneski, so., OF, Kamiakin; AJ Griffiths, so., INF, Kamiakin; Blake Raekes, so., INF, Kamiakin; Jake Valdez, fr., P, Kamiakin; Tate Gabriel, fr., INF, Hermiston.
WALLA WALLA — Moe Handcox, fr., OF, Walla Walla; Corey Morris, fr., INF, Richland; Kevin Toon, fr., INF, Walla Walla; Conner Holbrook, so., C, Walla Walla; Josh Eggers, fr., INF, Walla Walla; Cody Poznanski, so., OF, Richland; Jarrod Turner, so., C, Richland; Ryan Neal, fr., INF, Hanford; Bear Braich, fr., P, Hanford; Brett Christina, so., 1B, Walla Walla; Trevor Jones, fr., OF, Hanford; Drew Christina, so., P, Walla Walla; Stetson Plew, fr., P, Kennewick; Jarod Gonzales, fr., 1B, Kennewick; Jesse Houser, fr., UTL, Kamiakin; Jake Campeau, so., P, Walla Walla; Jake Browne, fr., C, Hanford; Dillan Klute, fr., UTL, Richland.
YAKIMA VALLEY — Andrew Castillo, fr., OF, Kamiakin.
CENTRALIA — Austin Steele, so., OF, Hanford; Riley Shintaffer, so., UTL, Hanford; Garrison Becker, fr., P, Hanford.
CLACKAMAS — Kennan VanHollebeke, fr., P, Connell.