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Originally published May 22, 2013 at 9:05 PM | Page modified May 22, 2013 at 9:35 PM

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Lions follow Brooks, take giant step | Baseball

Behind the leadership of Nick Brooks, top-ranked Auburn Mountainview has its eye on the school's first state baseball championship.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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There were many, many days when Auburn Mountainview High School coach Glen Walker questioned where he and his baseball program were headed.

Walker has been at the helm since the school opened in 2006, but the first three years were more choppy than smooth.

"I really struggled with that decision: 'Maybe it's time to give it up'," Walker said. "I'm working too hard, I'm too stressed out, and it's affecting my family life. There were a lot of dark days.

"In looking back, those tough years made these last four or so years that much more special."

Particularly this year.

Auburn Mountainview (24-3) enters this weekend's Class 3A state semifinals in Pasco as the top-ranked team in the state. The Lions have won eight straight and made it past the first round of the state playoffs for the first time.

"I knew that we were going to be good," Walker said. "But one or two kids make a huge impact on the team's success. One person in particular for us this season was Nick Brooks."

Brooks, a senior, leads Mountainview in average (.549), hits (45), runs batted in (42), doubles (13) and home runs (four). No teammate has more than 21 RBI. He is also the team's best pitcher, at 10-0 with a 1.44 earned-run average and 91 strikeouts in 63 innings.

But Brooks' contributions go beyond the box score and date back to talks he had with Walker as early as September. Walker insisted Brooks lead the Lions with his attitude as much as with his arm and bat.

"He's been probably the deciding factor," Walker said. "He chose early on to be a leader and to be the guy that was out front doing things the right way. The rest of the guys have followed."

Jeffrey Morgan, a sophomore, has .438 average, 21 RBI and a team-leading 19 steals. Mason Cerrillo, another sophomore, has 21 RBI and two home runs.

Senior pitchers Shawn Guinn and Cody Wiseman are a combined 8-3while often starting after Brooks. Junior Joey Cassano (0.91 ERA) has developed into the team's best reliever.

They give Auburn Mountainview a chance to do something no Lions before them have done.

Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or jjenks@seattletimes.com

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