Start with a triple, end with a triple. Not a bad way to start the season for the Kamiakin High baseball team.
Logan Jackson tripled and scored on an error in the Braves’ first at-bat of the year, and Brandon Larsen tripled and unloaded the bases in the final at-bat of Friday’s 13-2 win in six innings over Evergreen of Vancouver at LaPierre Field in Kennewick.
In between, senior starter Austen Hebdon carried a no-hitter through four innings and finished with five innings of four-hit ball and the win. He got plenty of good defense behind him, particularly from far-ranging third baseman Trystan Drury, as well as a strong inning of relief from freshman Matt Rowell.
All in all, a Kamiakin club with beaucoup new faces had plenty of positives to take away.
“We played fine,” said Jackson, whose last at-bat in a Braves uniform before Friday was driving in the winning run in the Class 3A state championship game. “We saw a lot of balls. But we need to be more aggressive at the start of counts.
“Pitching was outstanding.”
Indeed, of the things the Braves need to work on, pitching is low on the list.
Being aggressive at the plate, knowing where to go on a bunt with runners on — those rank higher, along with not letting the sprinklers go off between innings and learning the golden rule of field maintenance — drag the dirt, not the grass.
Evergreen, however, had plenty of mound lessons to learn after walking 14 batters, including six in the first inning as Kamiakin scored four runs on just one hit. Also, the visitors might want to work on their between-inning throws, so as to keep them out of the other team’s dugout.
That four-run first was all the support Hebdon would need. The long, lean righty had big movement that had batters hitting the ball straight up or straight down for the most part. The three liners he did give up were all corralled by Larsen in left field.
“My two-seem (fastball) was working pretty good,” Hebdon said. “There was a bit of movement there. A lot of times I was just throwing it over the plate and letting them get themselves out.”
Even in the fifth, when he ran into his only trouble and gave up a pair of runs, two of those hits were loopers, and a third was a bunt.
“Austen was great,” Braves coach Ryan Carter said. “He was so efficient.”
Hebdon was solid at the plate as well, driving in three runs with a single and a double. Jackson added a two-run single in the fifth, and Larsen crushed the final pitch of the game into the gap in left-center to put the Braves over the top for a mercy-rule ending.
With six new faces in his team’s lineup Friday, Carter said this season is less about being a defending champion and more about kids learning what it takes to be successful.
“We’re not defending champions,” he said. “That represents the past, and we honor that. But at the same time, we need to establish our own identities.” Or, as Jackson put it: “We know there’s a title. But we’re trying not to showboat it.”
Evergreen 000 020 — 2 4 4
Kamiakin 400 323 — 13 7 1
Justin Whitman, Jordan Moore (4), Nate Gulliford (6) and Josh Palmquist; Austen Hebdon, Matt Rowell (6) and Ty Early. Highlights--Hebdon (K) 2x4, 2B, 3 RBI, 5IP-4H-1ER-1K-2BB; Logan Jackson (K) 2x4, 3B, 2 RBI, 3R; Brandon Larsen (K) 3-R 3B, 3 BB.