Poway senior Tommy Brunansky delivers a pitch against El Capitan. Brunansky has compiled a 2.23 ERA through 12 innings this season.
POWAY After a hiccup 17-loss season last year, the Poway High baseball team is right back where the Titans expect to be — in the championship game of the Hilltop/Lolita’s Tournament.
Poway ensured a spot in Saturday morning’s title game with an 11-2 win Thursday over El Capitan.
The Titans (4-1), ranked No. 9 in the preseason, will play archrival and No. 1-ranked Rancho Bernardo at 10:30 a.m. at Hilltop High.
So how does a team that was 15-17 last season and 33-31 over the last two seasons, after going 182-59 the seven previous seasons, turn things around?
“Experience. Plain and simple, experience,” said Poway coach Bob Parry. “You can’t beat experience.
“We kept a young team last season, knowing we might take some lumps. This season, the young guys know what’s expected of them.”
And some guys have stepped up.
One of those is senior right-hander Tommy Brunansky.
After going 0-4 last season with a 7.45 ERA and losing his first start this season, Brunansky won his first varsity game, limiting El Cap (1-4) to two runs on four hits.
In 12 innings, Brunansky has issued just two walks, striking out nine and lowering his ERA to 2.23.
“This was a big-time win,” said Brunansky, who had a two-hit shutout until two out in the seventh.
“Last year, we were all young and learning together. We’re more mature this season. We knew this was our time.
“As for me, I finally look like a pitcher. I’m throwing strikes. I wasn’t worrying about the score. I wasn’t worried about situations.
“I was concentrating on the hitter. And when I was done with him, I’d move on to the next guy.”
With the game scoreless through three innings, Poway struck for five runs after two outs in the fourth.
The big blow was a long three-run home run by right fielder Joey Fiske — the first homer of his career.
“I don’t even hit ’em in batting practice,” said Fiske, Poway’s leadoff hitter.
“Most of the guys on the team have played with or against each other since Little League. So we’re pretty tight.
“Last year, we had some guys on the team that didn’t want to be here. Guys who were waiting for the season to end.
“This year, every guy wants to be here. Every guy wants to win. And I think you’re seeing the result.”
Fiske finished with four RBIs on a pair of hits.
Kyle Dean’s day ended with a grand slam for the Titans.
Saturday’s game against Palomar League rival RB will be the first of four meetings this season against the Broncos.
“RB is good,” said Parry, whose team was outscored 23-2 in three losses to the Broncos last season.
“But we see them all the time, so we won’t be intimidated. Playing them will be a good measure of where we are this season.”