KENNEWICK -- Down eight runs before they even stepped to the plate in a seeding game, the Kamiakin Braves could not have been judged too harshly if they had simply phoned in a token effort against Hanford on Saturday evening.
After all, the important, loser-out games had been played earlier in the day, with both Tri-City teams prevailing behind their ace pitchers.
Garrett Anderson threw a two-hitter and struck out nine to lead the Braves in a 4-0 shutout of West Valley. Dan Scheibe was equally effective for the Falcons with a three-hitter in a 2-0 win over Eastmont.
So when eight of the first nine Hanford batters reached and scored in the game to decided the third and fourth seeds to the CBBN/Greater Spokane League sub-regional, things seemed pretty well decided.
But not to the Braves, and particularly not to their 10 seniors in their final game at LaPierre Field.
AJ Griffiths went 5-for-5 with two doubles, a triple and five runs, and Blake Raekes was 3-for-4 and drove in five runs to lead Kamiakin to a remarkable 16-15 win over the Falcons.
"There was no way we were losing our last game at LaPierre," Griffiths said. "A home game, our home crowd, the last (home) game of our senior year -- this was must-win.
"We have too much leadership on this team, down 8-0, to give up."
With the win and the No. 3 seed, the Braves (18-4) will be in town Tuesday for a loser-out game with GSL No. 2 Mount Spokane (12-10) at Southridge. The winner will take on the host Suns (18-2), the CBBN No. 1.
Hanford (11-11) travels to Spokane to face rival Kennewick (16-4) on Tuesday in a loser-out game, with the winner playing at GSL No. 1 University (18-4).
Those four remaining teams advance to next Saturday's games at Southridge, with the top three moving on to regional play.
"We won the game we had to win," said Scheibe, who struck out six and walked three to dispense with Eastmont, which started the season a serious contender to win state but instead was the one of the CBBN's Big Five -- the three Kennewick schools and Hanford included -- to get squeezed out.
"That felt more like last year," added Scheibe, who finished the regular season 3-6. "It's the first close game I've won this year."
The Falcons managed just three hits themselves against Eastmont starter Ian Sagdal. Among them was Ryan Neal's RBI double in the sixth for a two-run margin. Chris Synoground's ground ball on a hit-and-run scored the first run in the third.
"We've struggled against teams' No. 1 pitchers all season, and Sagdal stuffed us," Hanford coach Tom DeWitz said of the teams' regular-season matchup. "I wouldn't say we crushed 'em with our three hits, but it was enough, and Scheibe was masterful. He had command today."
The same could be said of Anderson, who set down 12 of the first 13 he faced and only allowed two runners to reach second base, one of those on an error.
"Garrett's the man. No one is out here working harder than he is," said Griffiths, who also had two hits in the opener for a seven-hit day.
Justin Berneski's RBI single in the second was enough, and the senior right fielder came through big against Hanford as well.
His two-run bomb to left field put the Braves up 15-12 in the bottom of the fourth. In the top of the fifth, Neal cleared the bases with a double to right to tie the score.
Drew Oord, who homered in the first to help answer Hanford's eight-run outburst, capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
That was enough for Jesse Houser, who came on in the fifth with no outs and Neal on second and got a pop-up and two strikeouts to end the threat. He followed with a scoreless sixth and seventh to pick up the win, though a nod goes to Bryce Drury, who came on in relief in the first and limited the damage enough for the Braves to get back into the game.
"The first game was the most important thing," Anderson said, "but the second game, we still wanted to win."
Hanford 831 030 0 -- 15 12 3
Kamiakin 352 510 x -- 16 15 0
Garrison Becker, Pete Hanson (2), Colin Serkowski (4), Max Wood (5) and Chris Synoground; Logan Jackson, Bryce Drury (1), Jesse Houser (5) and Rowdy Grayson.
Highlights--Finn McMichael (H) 2x3, 2 RBI, 3R; Ryan Neal (H) 2x4, 2B, 3 RBI; Jake Browne (H) 3x5, 2 RBI; Riley Shintaffer (H) 2x3, 2R, RBI; AJ Griffiths (K) 5x5, 2 2B, 3B, 5R; Blake Raekes (K) 3x4, 2B, 5 RBI, 3R; Drew Oord (K) HR, 4 RBI; Justin Berneski (K) 3x5, HR, 2 RBI, 2R; Andrew Castillo (K) 3x5, 3B, 2 RBI; Nolan Earley (K) 2B, RBI.
Hanford 001 001 0 -- 2 3 0
Eastmont 000 000 0 -- 0 3 1
Dan Scheibe and Synoground; Ian Sagdal and Darren Spaeth. Highlights--Neal (H) 2x3, RBI 2B; Synoground (H) RBI; Scheibe (H) 7IP-3H-0ER-6K-3BB.
West Valley 000 000 0 -- 0 2 3
Kamiakin 010 111 x -- 4 8 1
Lukas Hinton and Steven Hillier; Garrett Anderson and Joey Flores. Highlights--Griffiths (K) 2x3; Oord (K) 2x3, 2B; Anderson (K) 7IP-2H-0ER-9K-2BB.