Glen Walker had a hunch. He first wanted to run it by his baseball coaching staff at Auburn Mountainview High School, which merited a round of discussion.
For the most important game of the season – the Class 3A state title game against West Seattle – Walker wanted to give the baseball to Shawn Guinn, a left-hander who had an up-and-down season.
Rewarding his coach’s faith, Guinn pitched a one-hitter into the seventh inning, and the Lions brought home their first 3A title with a 7-1 victory over West Seattle at Gesa Stadium in Pasco on Saturday afternoon.
Leading 2-0, the SPSL 3A and West Central District champions broke it open by scoring four runs in the sixth inning. The big blow came on Tyler Friis’ two-run single, and Joey Cassano and Kekoa Nahaku added RBI hits after that.
Hours after defeating Kennewick, 6-4, on Friday night, Walker had to figure out who is starting pitcher would be. Cassano was an option. He also had a pair of sophomores who were impressive in district-winning victory over Peninsula.
“I went with my gut,” Walker said. “He gave us the most options.”
The last time Guinn took the mound, he was rocked in the regional finals against Decatur. He surrendered six earned runs in the Lions’ 9-8 win, and did not get out of the fourth inning.
Coming into the game, he was 4-3 with a 4.40 earned-run average.
“I actually talked to him before our team meeting, and asked him, ‘Are you ready for this?'” Walker said. “He said, ‘Yes,’ and that was all I needed.”
Walker admitted Guinn was on a short leash Saturday, but turns out he didn’t need to be. He went through the Wildcats’ lineup the first time without giving up a hit.
In fact, the only hit he gave up before the seventh was a Morgan McCullough single in the fourth inning.
The Lions took a 1-0 lead off West Seattle starter Sam Hellinger when Mason Cerrillo beat out an infield grounder. Nahaku scored on the play.
An inning later, Auburn Mountainview grabbed a 2-0 advantage on Jeffrey Morgan’s sacrifice fly, scoring Friis.
And after scoring four runs, Guinn pitched into the seventh before giving up a run. He was taken out after 82 pitches, giving up five hits and striking out five. Cassano came in to get the final three outs in relief.