TUMWATER — For a brief moment, Justin Brascher thought he had ended things in the bottom of the ninth.
Two innings later, faced with the same opportunity, the Tumwater senior finally got his game-winner.
Brascher hit an RBI single in the 11th, Garrett Terrell was dominate in three innings of work, and the Thunderbirds opened the 2A District IV baseball tournament by beating visiting Capital, 3-2, on Tuesday.
“I didn’t care how we got it,” Brascher said, “just as long as we won.”
During his first at-bat, Brascher, who entered the game in the ninth as a pinch hitter, delivered a deep drive to right field.
But the potential game-ending home run ultimately turned into a long out.
“I know I don’t have opposite-field power,” Brascher said, “but when I saw (the outfielder’s) back I thought it may have a chance.”
Brascher’s second plate appearance, while significantly less dramatic than what could have been two innings before, was just as effective as his sharply hit grounder back up the middle
drove in Ian Sugrue to push Tumwater into the semifinals.
“I knew all I had to do was put the ball in play and we’d win,” Brascher said. “It’s going to make school a little better tomorrow.”
The Thunderbirds (18-3) got two RBIs and four hits from Sugrue, and three hits from Terrell.
Tumwater starter Elijah Hill struck out eight and gave up four hits in eight innings.
Terrell took over in the top of the ninth and proceeded to strike out five batters in three scoreless innings to pick up the win.
“The start of the ninth I told the team, ‘We’re going to win. Look who we have on the mound,’ ” Tumwater coach Jamie Weeks said. “It took us a couple innings to get there, but we did. Garrett just installs a lot of confidence in our players when he’s pitching.”
Terrell went right to work the moment he took the mound, throwing a 1-2-3 ninth while striking out the side.
“These are the types of games I like. I enjoy playing with pressure,” Terrell said. “It keeps me focused.”
Terrell added two more strikeouts in the 10th and added his sixth one to get out of the 11th with runners on first and second.
Tumwater, champion of the 2A Evergreen Conference, advances to play W.F. West in Wednesday’s 4 p.m. semifinal in Chehalis.
It marks the ninth game between the two squads over the past two years. The Bearcats, who defeated Greater St. Helens League runner-up Mark Morris, 5-2, in the first round, went 5-0 against the T-Birds last year, including a 12-0 victory in the 2A state title game.
Tumwater swept the three regular season meetings this year.
“We certainly know each other, that’s for sure,” Weeks said. “It’s always a tough game.”
Capital (6-15) will square off against Mark Morris (14-6) in a loser-out game 4 p.m. Wednesday in Centralia.
Dane Klenk proved to be the workhorse for Capital, striking out five and giving up nine hits in 10 innings against the T-Birds.
Ryan Rieta put the Cougars up 2-0 with a solo homer in the fourth.
“Give a ton of credit to Capital,” said Weeks, whose team improved to 4-0 against the Cougars this season. “They didn’t care who they were playing. That’s a very good team we beat today.”
Sugrue hit his first RBI in the fourth to cut the Tumwater deficit in half at 2-1.
Capital turned double plays to end both the fourth and fifth innings to maintain its one-run lead before a Sugrue single drove in Terrell in the sixth to tie the game.
Hill pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, notching his eighth strikeout to end the inning.
Terrell took over from there.
Sugrue opened the 11th with a single. Riley Owen then walked before Keenan Milligan’s bunt loaded the bases, setting Brascher up for the winning hit.
Terrell was originally going to get the start Wednesday, but instead the T-Birds will go with Luke Hare.