LAUREL - Meridian's Jeremy Brockmann admits pitching has been a little bit of a "struggle" recently.
It gets a whole lot easier when you have some offense to back you up, though, and Brockmann made sure give himself plenty of that on Wednesday, May 1, in the first round of the Class 1A Northwest District Baseball Tournament.
The senior, who is heading to Centralia College to play next year, went 4 for 4, drove in four runs and rebounded from a rocky first two innings on the mound to lead the Trojans to a 15-5 victory over visiting Nooksack Valley in six innings.
"He certainly came to play that way (at the plate)," Meridian coach Steve Slesk said. "He's been struggling a bit on the mound ... but he gutted through it. We needed him to go and get the job done for us today. We're in it to win the whole thing, and we've got our rotation set the way we want to get it done. He got the job done, and we backed him up by swinging the bat."
Meridian (12-8) pounded out 15 hits off three Nooksack Valley pitchers and used an eight-run second to blow open the game.
In doing so, the Trojans move on the district semifinals and will play Lynden Christian, which beat Coupeville 2-1 on Wednesday, at 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 2, at Blaine's Pipeline Fields.
Nooksack Valley (6-14) drops into the consolation bracket and will play the Wolves in a 1 p.m. elimination game at Pipeline.
"It feels good to get the win, but it's just a first step," Brockmann said. "We can't be content, because there's still a long road ahead."
The Pioneers came out determined to make that road even longer, as they touched Brockmann for six hits in the first two innings to build 1-0 and 3-2 leads.
But Nooksack's fortunes changed in a big way in the bottom of the second.
Though Tucker Bronkema's bases-loaded single brought home Kyle Linderman with the Trojans' first run of the inning, it was Brockmann's single into the right-center field gap that scored Josh Hosick and Dakota Jones and really got things going.
Meridian ended up sending 12 batters to the plate and collected half of their 14 base hits in the inning.
"That inning gave us a lot of confidence," Brockmann said. "It kind of got the momentum flowing and showed what we can do when we get hot."
It also quickly ended the Pioneers' upset hopes.
"I think if a couple breaks go our way, we have a whole different ball game," Nooksack Valley coach Scott Gelwicks said. "We had a bad hop on a double-play ball. We had a couple errors, and that opened up the floodgates. They're good hitters - they're going to hit the ball."
With a sizeable lead, Brockmann threw a couple of zeros on the board in the third and fourth innings, despite surrendering a single and two walks, before the Pioneers touched him for two more runs in the top of the fifth.
But by then, Meridian had added two more runs, and the Trojans brought the game to an early end by loading the bases and drawing three straight walks from David Anderson, Brockmann and Chad Richter.
In addition to Brockmann, Richter went 2 for 3 with three RBI, while Davis Phillips also collected two hits and an RBI.
Nooksack Valley also had an impressive offensive line with 10 hits. Freshman starting pitcher Noah Rawls led the way, going 3 for 3 with a double, while Tanner Myhre had two hits.
"I feel good - we're set up pretty good," Gelwicks said. "We still have some arms for Thursday and Saturday, and we've played with every team we're going to face. I still feel confident about getting through districts."
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
MERIDIAN 15, NOOKSACK VALLEY 5 (6)
Nooksack Valley 120 020 - 5 10 3
Meridian 281 103 - 15 14 3
WP: Jeremy Brockmann. LP: Noah Rawls. Highlights: Nooksack Valley: Noah Rawls 3-3, R, 2B; Tanner Myhre 2-2, 2 R, Levi Schram 1-3, 2 RBI. Meridian: Jeremy Brockmann 4-4, 2 R, 4 RBI; Chad Richter 2-3, R, 3 RBI, Tanner Tutterrow 1-3, R, 2 RBI, Jacob Plagerman 1-3, R, 2 RBI, 3B; Davis Phillips 2-4, RBI.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.