At the best of times Friday, nothing came easy for the Kennewick baseball team.
At the worst, it was downright brutal.
A trio of errors in the sixth inning unraveled five innings of solid play as the Lions fell to Auburn Mountainview 6-4 on Friday in the Class 3A state semifinals at Gesa Stadium in Pasco.
Mason Cerillo’s push bunt and Joey Cassano’s two-run triple proved big blows for Mountainview during the five-run frame.
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Cassano’s hit ended the day for Kennewick starter Jarrod Molnaa, who never quite got comfortable in the zone but still carried a three-hitter through five innings.
“That’s out of character for our team,” Kennewick coach A.J. Marquardt said of his team’s five errors plus a couple mental mistakes that don’t show up in the linescore. “It was unexpected the way it unfolded, and it happened quickly. A couple mistakes, and they capitalized.”
The Lions (21-4) will have to regroup quickly, facing a 10 a.m. matchup with Mount Si in the third-place game today.
The Wildcats (18-6) lost 3-1 to West Seattle (21-5), which will play Mountainview (25-3) for the championship at 4 p.m.
It was five years to the day that Kennewick won the state title in 2008, a wild 24-12 win over Kelso.
And the Lions got off to a strong start Friday, taking a 3-1 lead after two innings.
JJ Hancock banged a ball off the right-field wall in the first inning to drive in Vince Gonzalez, who drew a one-out walk.
Hancock came around on a wild pitch as hard-throwing Mountainview starter Nick Brooks also had trouble finding his spots early on.
Colton Plew doubled to lead off the second and came around, but Kennewick wouldn’t score again until Hancock doubled with two outs in the seventh and scored on Clayten Ayres’ single.
Brooks, a big, hard-throwing righty, got off cheap in the second after loading the bases with no out. Plew scored on Gonzalez’s double-play ball to short, and a strikeout ended the threat.
“That was huge,” said Mountainview coach Glen Walker, noting that it took two innings — and 61 pitches — for his ace to calm down.
“He was hitting 88, 89 on the radar gun, and he’s never done that. Obviously it was adrenaline.”
And after Hancock’s first-inning triple, it was the last fastball the Kennewick junior saw until Brooks challenged him again in the seventh on the double.
“I think the turning point in the game was when he got (Hancock) on his second at-bat, and it was on a curve ball.”
Kennewick also missed a chance to tack on a run in the fifth when Ayres tripled with one out but died on the vine.
Brooks finished up with a six-hitter, throwing 135 pitches to get there.
Like Brooks, Molnaa avoided big trouble, but his walk of Mountainview’s first batter of the game was a portent. He walked four of the first 10 he faced and was chasing counts all game.
Still, he gave up just two hits through four innings and looked on pace for a hard-fought win.
“He battled his butt off,” Marquardt said.
Mountainview’s big sixth inning started with a walk and a stolen base, followed by an error on a ground ball up the middle and another steal to put runners at second and third. Molnaa struck out the next batter, but Cerillo made a great bunt on an eye-level fastball, pushing it past Molnaa and giving second baseman Larry Dewitt no chance on the play.
Dewitt was handcuffed on the throw, which was too high for Plew at first. Two runs scored on the play, and the go-ahead run came home on Ayres’ error following back-to-back singles. Cassano followed with a triple to center that got by a diving Steven Sordahl for a 6-3 margin.
That was it for Molnaa, who had delivered three of the Lions’ four postseason wins. Freshman Matt Driver came on to get the final out on an easy fly ball to center.
“We have a 20-minute rule,” Marquardt said after the emotions cut loose in the clubhouse. “After the 20-minute rule, it’s on to the next day. They’ll take their 20 minutes, and then we’ll come out tomorrow against Mount Si and we’ll go at ’em.”
West Seattle 3, Mount Si 1: Tim Adams hit a two-run single in the first, and Sam Hellinger made it stand up with a six-hitter for West Seattle and 26-year head coach Velko Vitalich, playing in their first state semifinal.
Mount Si, which won the title in 2011, got a big start from Chaise Kairis, who also gave up just six hits and struck out six. But the Wildcats were undone by four errors.
South Kitsap 1, Kentwood 0: The Conquerors still can’t solve Michael Wood. The Wolves starter, who threw a three-hitter against the Conks in an 11-1 district win two weeks ago, produced a five-hit gem to outduel Kentwood starter Jordan Jones.
South Kitsap (21-5) advances to tonight’s 7 p.m. title game against Skyview (21-6), which beat Kentridge 10-0 in the other semifinal. Kentwood (21-5) and Kentridge (20-9) will play for third at 1 p.m.
Skyview 10, Kentwood 0: Ian Hamilton not only spun five marvelous innings on the mound — two hits, one walk and 10 strikeouts — he also went 2-for-4 with a double hitting at the top of the order.
Auburn Mountainview 6, Kennewick 4
Kennewick 210 000 1 — 4 6 5
Auburn Mountainview 100 005 x — 6 6 1
Jarrod Molnaa, Matt Driver (6) and Dylan Wilbert; Nick Brooks and Brice McCulloch. Highlights—JJ Hancock (K) 2x4, 2B, 3B, RBI, 2R; Colton Plew (K) 2B; Molnaa (K) 5.2IP-6H-2ER-6R-5BB-2K; Joey Cassano (AM) 2x2, 2 RBI; Mason Cerillo (AM) 2x2, RBI.
West Seattle 3, Mount Si 1
West Seattle 200 010 0 — 3 6 2
Mount Si 000 000 1 — 1 6 4
Sam Hellinger and Jimmy Mai; Chaise Kairis and Zach Usselman. Highlights—Tim Adams (WS) 2x3, 2 RBI; Hellinger (WS) 2B, 7IP-6H-0ER-0BB-4K; Morgan McCullough (WS) 2B; Brian Woolley (MS) 2B; Connor Jensen (MS) 2x3; Wyatt Baker-Jagla (MS) 2x3.
South Kitsap 10, Kentwood 0
Kentwood 000 000 0 — 0 5 3
South Kitsap 000 100 x — 1 6 0
Jordan Jones and Reese McGuire; Michael Wood and Tyler Pinkerton. Highlights—Michael Ciancio (K) 2x2; Jones (K) 6IP-6H-1R-0ER-3BB-7K; Tyler Ludlow (SK) 2x3, 2B; Cody Wolfe (SK) RBI; Wood (SK) 7IP-5H-0R-1BB-9K.
Skyview 10, Kentridge 0
Kentridge 000 00 — 0 2 4
Skyview 110 17 — 10 10 0
Two outs when 10-run rule invoked
Jeremy Rabauliman, Ken Williams (5), Daniel Torial (5) and Shane Stober; Ian Hamilton and Jordy Freese. Highlights—Hamilton (S) 5IP-2H-0R-1BB-10K, 2x4, 2B, RBI, R; James Brooks (S) 2x2, 2B, 2 RBI; Brian Valentine (S) 3x4, 2 RBI.
Stanfield 15, Bonanza 8: The Tigers brought plenty of offense on their eight-hour bus trip, evidenced by Michael Martinez’s first-inning grand slam and Devin Haefer’s solo shot in the second.
But it was a key defensive play by Tyler Renner in left field that turned the game.
Stanfield led 9-5 with the bases loaded an one out in the bottom of the fourth when Renner made a diving catch on a screaming line drive. The runner on third, figuring it would be a hit, was almost home when Renner made the play. It turned into an easy double play to end the threat.
Martinez, after his first-inning slam and second-inning RBI single, was intentionally walked the rest of the day, including once with the bases empty. Devin Sather, hitting behind Martinez, went 3-for-4 with a double.
The Tigers are home for the semifinals against Grant Union at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Stanfield 440 103 3 — 15 13 2
Bonanza 500 010 2 — 8 10 3
William Abney and Devin Sather; Stewart, Angel (7) and Madera. Highlights—Michael Martinez (S) 2x2, GS HR, 5 RBI; Sather (S) 3x4, 2B, RBI; Devin Haefer (S) 3x4, 3B, HR.
Rain, rain ... : Bad weather played havoc with the 1A and 2A tournaments in Yakima and the 2B tournament in Ellensburg.
All of Friday’s games at Yakima County Stadium were washed out and will be played Saturday at the same times.
DeSales’ 2B semifinal in Ellensburg was postponed to 10 a.m. Saturday, with the championship and third-fourth games both slated for 1 p.m. The 1B championship between Liberty Christian vs. Lake Quinault will go off at 4 p.m. as scheduled.