One of the most unforgettable chapters of the Steve Farrington era at Lower Columbia College had nothing to do with winning baseball.
The former Red Devils coach was known to borrow a firefighting strategy developed by LCC's Forestry Department to dry the field after rain delays, dousing the dirt with a diesel/gasoline mix — and setting it ablaze.
To the fire marshall's delight, that method is no longer employed. Still, when the tarp came off the infield following a one-hour rain delay in the middle of Game 2 of the NWAACC baseball championships on Thursday at David Story Field, Farrington's Columbia Basin squad looked rather, well, fuel-injected.
The Hawks scored all of their runs after the rain delay, demolishing Pierce's early lead and coasting to a 14-6 blowout.
Farrington said he wasn't sure how the delay impacted his team. The scoreboard argued that the delay was, in CBC center fielder Mac Acker's words, "crucial."
"We came out real flat," said Acker, the grandson of legendary local basketball official Bill Cheatley. "That rain delay gave us a break or something. We're usually a small-ball team that manufactures one or two at a time. We hit the ball today."
Prior to the delay, the Hawks (33-14) had scored zero runs on two hits.
After? Fourteen runs on 14 hits, including an eight-run outburst in the top of the eighth.
"We figured, ‘Let's play this thing out, see what's in their bullpen'," Farrington said. "That hour-delay ... they weren't as sharp afterwards."
John Reilly was 4 for 4 with three runs scored, Cole McPherson 3 for 3 with a two-run home run and three RBIs, Acker 3 for 6 and Brittan Hammer 2 for 6 with two doubles and three RBIs as CBC pounded five Pierce pitchers.
Meanwhile, Farrington's decision to stick starter Taylor Nicholson in the bullpen — then summon him for long relief when the tarp was pulled back — proved sage. Nicholson did not allow an earned run and rationed two hits over the final six innings of the game, earning his seventh victory - and first in relief.
"I told him I thought we'd come back, so go put up some goose-eggs and carry the load," said Farrington.
"He's a great pitcher," Acker added. "We needed that."
Columbia Basin takes on Lane in a semifinal game at 4:35 p.m. Friday. The Raiders (31-8) face Everett in an elimination game at 9:35 a.m.
Lane 9, Everett 4
Story Field usually plays big, but not in the tourney opener. The Titans and Trojans combined to crush four home runs, none bigger than an eighth-inning grand slam by Lane's Joe Offer that blew the game open.
Darrell Hunter and Jordyn Van Atta also homered for the Titans (25-18), who trailed 4-2 after Everett's three-run seventh but exploded for six runs in the eighth.
Eight of Lane's nine runs came against Everett starter Ricky Holm, who entered the game with a 9-1 record and 2.26 earned run average.
Nick Phillips yielded four runs on six hits in 6 2/3 innings to earn the victory for the Titans, who earned a semifinal matchup against Columbia Basin today.
For Everett (34-10), Alex Reynolds was 3 for 3 and David Amberson hit a home run. The Trojans take on Pierce in an elimination game.
Bellevue 10, Mount Hood 2
The top-ranked Bulldogs showed why they are a tournament favorite by unleashing a 20-hit avalanche against Mount Hood.
Kyle Conwell was 4 for 5 with a triple to lead the parade for Bellevue (34-13), and all but one player in the starting lineup had at least two base hits.
Cory Urquhart was 3 for 6 with a double, Andy Smith 2 for 3 with a home run and Kyle Johnson 2 for 5 with a homer for the winners.
Kyle Swannack allowed two earned runs on six hits in eight innings to earn the victory, striking out seven.
Bellevue plays the winner of the Lower Columbia/Yakima Valley game at 7:35 p.m. tonight. The seventh-ranked Saints (26-12) face the loser of that game in an elimination contest at 12:35.