It all came down to a single hit.
With the score tied, two-all, two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the second, Nick Adams was in the hot seat, hoping to stave off an overtime battle with a dangerous North Thurston team.
Adams nailed it, hitting a fielder’s choice grounder to second, and runner Evan Johnson made it safely to second, allowing Joey Cotto to cruise home for his second run in the crucial regionals game.
“I feel a lot better now,” said Adams, after a wild celebratory huddle on the field.
The Rams’ pitcher “hung one, so I rolled over on it,” said Adams. “I got a nice jump and slid in way safe.”
“I knew the game was over,” said Cotto. “Evan, he looks pretty big, but he’s speedy. There’s no way that guy’s gonna get him.”
The win, powered by runs by Cotto and number-two hitter and shortstop Carson Breshears, sends Mount Si on another fateful journey to the state semifinals this year in Pasco.
Mount Si beat the Rams, 3-2, then went on to deal with Meadowdale, 7-2, in a doubleheader Saturday, May 18, at Bellevue’s Bannerwood Park.
Chase Kairis pitched against the Rams, while Connor Swift did duty against the Meadowdale Mavericks.
Mount Si went on a streak in the fifth against Meadowdale, with a Connor Jensen double bringing home two. In the game, Cotto and Breshears scored four runs in six at-bats.
“It’s just another game,” Swift said, going into the contest. “I’m just trying to throw strikes. See what I can do, see if my stuff is working today. I’ve got my D behind me.”
“We’ve been a team for a while now,” Swift says. “We know what’s going through each other’s heads.”
“Keep it out of the air, I need a ground ball,” Habben recalls telling Adams in the final at-bat. with the Rams. “He delivered huge. I was glad he was up there. He was ready to go.”
As for Kairis, “he’s done a great job this year,” the coach said. Kairis and the defense had that tough moment in the fifth, when the Rams brought home two, but “he got back out there and did a great job. We changed the approach, played a little more small ball.”
“I can’t be mad if I know I went out and tried my hardest,” said Kairis. He has come a long way to be here. During his freshman year, he was out of the game twice, for six months, after cracking his back. Overcoming vertebral fractures with physical therapy and help from a trainer, Kairis returned to the game.
“It takes a lot out of you,” he said of the downtime. “All you can do is eat, sleep. You can’t do any fun stuff.”
But, “I found out that it helps with mental toughness,” he added. Small, teenage-life frustrations don’t matter as much any more. Today, “I’m in the best shape of my life,” he said.
• Mount Si will play West Seattle in the state semifinals, 10 a.m. Friday, May 31, at Pasco’s GESA Stadium.
• See more photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/32315452@N03/sets/72157633610494974/
Nick Adams watches a foul during one of several at-bats last Saturday at Bannerwood. His clutch hit, with two strikes and two outs, won a crucial game for Mount Si on the road to state.
Carson Breshears goes into motion from second in his push for an early-game run against North Thurston.