SPOKANE — The Hanford Flames connected for 36 hits over two games Wednesday to capture the senior American Legion state title at Jackson Field in Spokane.
The Flames opened play with an 11-4 victory over the Yakima Pepsi-Pak, then dealt Centralia a 15-6 loss in the championship game as Trevor Jones went 5-for-6 with three doubles and three RBIs.
“This is very exciting,” said Flames coach Nat Roe, whose team won four loser-out games to win their first state title. “I started coaching this group of kids five years ago. I’m so proud of them. They wanted to get themselves a banner.”
The Flames advance to the Northwest Regional in Eugene, starting Aug. 8 at Swede Johnson Stadium. The Flames will open play against the Oregon champions at 5 p.m.
Hanford’s Isaac Benard was named tournament MVP, while teammate Jacob Anderson was named the tournament’s top pitcher.
“They are incredibly deserving,” Roe said. “Isaac was the best hitter by far at the tournament. Jacob, who will be a junior, was excellent on the mound.”
Against Yakima, Colin Serkowski pitched a complete game, and went 2-for-5 at the plate with a double and two RBIs.
Benard went 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs, while Brandon Peterson went 2-for-3 with a double and three runs scored.
“Colin Serkowki wasa force that would not be denied,” Roe said. “He was going to get us to the championship game.”
The Flames jumped out to a 6-0 lead over Centralia after two innings, but Centralia pulled even in the bottom of the third with six runs — with two outs — on six hits.
“They got two bloop hits to start the inning,” Roe said. “Then we had an error, then we walked somebody and they got a couple more hits.”
That would be all Hanford would allow the rest of the game.
“(Catcher) Jake Browne settled down our defense when it looked ugly and we scored nine unanswered runs from there,” Roe said. “We starting raining doubles down on them. We absolutley mashed the ball Hanford Flames style.”
The Flames added two runs in the fifth, three in the sixth, one in the eighth and topped things off with three in the top of the ninth.
Jones had a two-run double in the ninth to cap a productive day by the Flames. Benard, Ryan Neal and Serkowski each drove in three runs, while Serkowski added a pair of doubles.
Anderson picked up the win, allowing six runs on 10 hits. He struck out seven and walked one batter in eight complete innings.
Yakima Pepsi-Pak 020 001 100 — 4 9 1
Hanford Flames 002 111 06x — 11 17 4
Peters and Logan; Serkowski and Browne. Highlights—Gutierrez (Y) 2x5, 2B; Lindemann (Y) 3x4, 2R; McMichael (H) 3x5, 2R; Benard (H) 2x3, 2B, 3 RBIs; Neal (H) 2x3; Serkowski (H) 2x5, 2B, 2 RBIs; Heid (H) 4x5; Peterson (H) 2x3, 3R, 2B, RBI.
Hanford Flames 150 023 013 — 15 19 3
Centralia 006 000 000 — 6 10 3
Anderson, Mitchell (9) and Browne; Conradi, Putnam (6), Calkins (9) and Steen. Highlights—Benard (H) 3x5, 2B, 5R, 3 RBIs; McMichael (H) 3R, RBI; Jones (H) 5x6, 3 2B, 3 RBIs; Neal (H) 2x4, 2B, 3 RBIs; Browne (H) 3x6, 2B, RBI; Serkowski (H) 2x5, 2 2B, 3 RBIs; Hopp (H) 2x4; Colson (H) 2B; Shirer (C) 2x5; Calkins (C) 2x4; Elam (C) 2x3, 2B; Cox (C) 2B, RBI.