Thunder baseball making noise in the 3A GSHL

Mountain View beats Prairie for fifth consecutive win

By Paul Valencia, Columbian High School Sports Reporter

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Thunder and lightning delayed the baseball game for 30 minutes but nothing could delay the inevitable turnaround for the Mountain View Thunder baseball team.

After a 1-3 start in Class 3A Greater St. Helens League play, the Thunder are back in contention, on a five-game win streak.

Jasper Rank threw a complete game Thursday, striking out five while giving up zero earned runs in a 5-4 victory over Prairie. He got a strikeout to end the game with the tying run on second base.

“We made it a little stressful. We made it a little more interesting,” Rank said. “The adrenaline really helped me out. … When you get that final strikeout, it’s a relief.”

Spencer Warner had two hits, got on base three times, stole two bases, and scored two runs — exactly what a lead-off hitter is trying to accomplish.

Warner is relatively new to that role. A change in the lineup was one of the keys to the recent run of success for the Thunder, he said.

That and this new team learning to lean on each other. Mountain View had 12 seniors on the squad last season when the Thunder won the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League title.

Going to the 3A GSHL, the Thunder expected to compete this season, even with returning just one starter. But yes, it took some time.

“We became more of a family at practice, with more competition,” Warner said. “We’re playing more like a family.”

Even picking themselves up when they are down.

Prairie scored three unearned runs in the bottom of the third inning after the weather delay, taking advantage of two Mountain View errors. Greg Bernash, Connor Smith, and Alec Gawley each drove in a run for the Falcons.

“We know they are a good hitting team. We knew we couldn’t make mistakes,” Warner said. “But we still came out with the W. When we made mistakes, we overcame them.”

Mountain View would regain the lead in the top of the sixth. Andrew Hensley got a lead-off single, moved to second on a bunt, took third on a ground out then came home on a wild pitch.

The Thunder added a run in the seventh when Warner singled, stole second, stole third, and raced home on a passed ball.

Prairie would make things interesting in the bottom of the seventh when Blake Robb and Greg Bernash each managed infield singles. An error put them on second and third base with one out. Brady Majewski drove in Robb on a ground out to make it 5-4.

Rank would finish the job for his second complete game in a row with the strikeout.

He said he doesn’t get rattled when errors occur.

“Everybody makes mistakes. They still have your back,” Rank said. “So you still have to have confidence and throw strikes.”

Warner opened the game with a double and came home on Andre Scheer’s single. Scheer would score on a Prairie error, and later in the inning, Garrett Moen recorded an RBI-single for a quick 3-0 lead.

It would get close, but that’s OK for the Thunder.

They have been getting closer as a team lately, and closer to first place.