University junior pitcher Tim McBroom was shaking when assistant coach Don Ressa went to the mound in the first inning Thursday at Avista Stadium.
McBroom entered the second game of the District 8 3A best-of-3 series with a 2.02 ERA, and he came within a whisker of not making it out of the first, hitting the leadoff batter on the first pitch and subsequently walking four. But the crafty right-hander survived a three-run first and the Titans captured the district championship with an 11-4 win over the Mt. Spokane Wildcats at Avista Stadium.
Both teams advance to regionals, which begin Tuesday. University (18-4) will be at home while Mt. Spokane (12-10) travels to the Tri-Cities as both will play Columbia Basin Big Nine opponents to be determined.
McBroom felt fortunate to get out of the first trailing just 3-0.
“I hit the first kid and it got in my head and I thought about it too much,” said McBroom, who improved to 7-1.
His teammates bailed him out in the third when they scored five runs to take a 5-3 lead.
“That big inning took the pressure off,” McBroom said. “It helps knowing we can hit and play defense. I was able to focus and find my groove.”
McBroom scattered seven hits from the second on, and had thrown 101 pitches going into the seventh. He told U-Hi coach Scott Sutherland he wanted to finish.
“If he would have given up another big (hit in the first) and it would have gotten to five (runs) we were ready to pull him – just thinking this game was going to get out of reach and we might have to come back with him in the (third) game,” Sutherland said. “Timmy, for a young kid, has pretty good poise. He just kept getting better and better.”
Mt. Spokane coach Alex Schuerman thought his team let an opportunity to chase McBroom slip away.
“Today was frustrating,” Schuerman said. “They were ready to pull him. We needed to get into their bullpen. We allowed him to regain his confidence. You could see a different pitcher (after the first). He’s a good pitcher. We had a chance to knock him out and we didn’t.”
In the key third, Thomas Wakem had a two-run single, Taylor Keeton knocked in a run with a single, a run scored on a Colin Young groundout and Austin Sturgis had an RBI double.
“Coming back and scoring five runs was huge for us,” Sutherland said. “We’re just a bunch of lunch-pail guys.”
It was easy for Schuerman to sum up his team’s play Thursday.
“It was a classic case of missed opportunities,” he said.