There is a certain amount of honor that comes with winning four consecutive NWAACC East baseball titles.
But for Columbia Basin College coach Steve Farrington, the overwhelming feeling is security.
“We’re in Longview — that’s the best part of it,” the Hawks’ skipper said Thursday night, the eve of the start of the East Regional tournament in Yakima.
Farrington was referring to the NWAACC tournament, hosted each year by Lower Columbia in Longview. As the East’s No. 1 seed into regionals — CBC and Yakima Valley shared the regular-season title, but the Hawks got the top seed on a tiebreaker — CBC has a guaranteed spot into the championship tournament.
It will be the Hawks’ 15th consecutive trip to the championships. However, CBC hopes to reverse a two-year trend of going 0-2 in regionals followed by an abbreviated stay at the NWAACCs.
Despite the No. 1 seed residing with CBC, the tournament will be played at YVC’s Parker Field. The host Yaks (29-13) open with Treasure Valley (25-18) at 10 a.m., followed by CBC (25-19) and Walla Walla (27-17) at 1 p.m. in a double-elimination format.
“My biggest thing with these guys is continue to get better at things in the game as the game presents it to us,” Farrington said. “Situational play, do what we want to be trying to do, see what (other teams) are trying to do, recognize what they’re doing. Take what people give us.
“I tell them, it’s the hot team that wins. So this weekend is really big for us. It’s not only the best team wins. Sometimes the hot team wins.”
And no team has been hotter than CBC during the second half of the season.
Before being swept by Spokane last weekend — the Hawks had the top seed locked up before their second game started — CBC had won 12 of 15 games. After a 6-10 start, the Hawks went 19-9 in the East.
“We’ve played better defense,” said Farrington, whose club averaged more than three errors a game before starting regional play, less than two after.
“Defense and pitching has been our strength, and on the offensive side of things, we’ve been able to create runs.”
And, Farrington added, they’ve made them stand up.
“We make runs stick,” he said. “We’ve won games by being one run better. When we’ve had to, we’ve raised up and found a way.”
Three starting pitchers have ERAs under 4.00 — Arty Reyes (2.52, 6-2, 58K, 24 BB in 71 IP), Jon Rapose (3.15, 7-4, 57K, 18 BB in 60 IP) and Nico Lytle (3.81, 2-2, 53K, 20 BB in 52 IP).
Offensively, the team batting average is a respectable .269, led by freshman center fielder Joey Jansen (.371, 27 RBIs, 35 runs) and sophomore DH Matt Minnich (.321, 13 RBIs, 18 runs).
And while the Hawks are capable of putting together big innings, Farrington would like to seem them work on the little things this weekend.
“Take a few more pitches, go the other way better,” he said. “Help move runners and score runs. It’s a team offensive scheme.
“We’re a solid baseball team right now, a team, though, that has to be focused and play together. That, for me, is what this weekend can help us with. You don’t have to go to Longview and do something new. Just do what you’ve been doing.”