SPOKANE, Wash. — When nobody had an answer for Yakima Valley day after day at the Senior Legion state tournament, the Hanford Flames did. Twice.
And that’s what it took to finally subdue the resilient Pepsi Pak — Hanford’s historic run to a state championship.
After falling to the Flames by one run on opening day and then advancing through three consecutive loser-out rounds, the Pak fell to Hanford 11-4 on Wednesday to end its season at A.K. Jackson Field.
Hanford then went on to rout Centralia 15-6 in the championship game to become the first single-high school Senior Legion team in decades to win a state title. The Flames advance to the Northwest Regional tournament in Eugene, Ore.
Colin Serkowski, who pitched eight innings in Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Pak, went the distance on Wednesday with a 131-pitch effort that kept his team in the game until the Flames broke away with six runs in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Behind starter Dylan Peters, who opposed Serkowski on Saturday as well, Yakima Valley led early and was within 5-4 through seven innings. The Pak took a 2-0 lead in the second frame when Kurt Lindemann and Taylor Logan reached on back-to-back singles off Serkowski and later scored.
The game stayed close until Hanford’s big rally in the eighth, much of which came with two outs. Three straight singles extended the Flames’ lead to 6-4 before the Pak picked up the second out. But Hanford used a single and walk with the bases loaded to push the margin to 8-4 and then Serkowski shut the door with a three-run double.
Lindemann was 3 for 4 with two runs scored and Fabian Gutierrez had a single and double among the nine hits for the Pak, which finished the season 43-20.
Gutierrez led Yakima Valley with a .476 batting average in five games at state and Ryan Ross was second at .429. Ross, Logan, Lindemann and Peters (twice) all pitched complete games — the Pak never made a move to its bullpen at state — and combined to post a tournament-low 3.07 earned-run average over 41 innings.
Hanford (39-19), which has won 29 of its last 31 games, led the tournament in batting average (.376) and doubles (28).
Game 14: Hanford 11, Yakima Valley 4, loser out.
Game 15: Hanford 15, Centralia 6, championship.
Hanford 11, Yakima Valley 4
Yakima Valley 020 001 100 — 4 9 1
Hanford 002 111 06x — 11 17 4
Peters and Logan; Serkowski and Browne.
Highlights: Kurt Lindemann (YV) 3-4, 2 runs; Fabian Gutierrez (YV) 2-5, 2b; Taylor Logan (YV) 1-3, run; Jace VanDeBrake (YV) 1-4, run; Colin Serkowski (H) CG, 3 ER, 2-5, 2b, 3 RBI; Brady Heid (H) 4-5; Finn McMichael (H) 3-5, 2 runs; Isaac Benard (H) 2-3, 2b, 2 runs, 3 RBI.