Fans of either Tumwater District high school won’t remember the 2017 North Kitsap baseball team fondly.
For a long moment Saturday afternoon, it seemed likely that Black Hills and Tumwater would meet for a berth in the 2A state final four next weekend in Yakima.
The Thunderbirds had shut out Lynden, 2-0, in a morning game as Logan Chase carried a no-hitter into the seventh before giving up a bloop single, with Noah Andrews and Logan Hayes driving in the runs. And the Wolves led North Kitsap, 9-6, in the bottom of the seventh.
Then magic struck for the Vikings on a cloudless, 75-degree day at Auburn High School.
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First, North Kitsap catcher Carson Bower blasted a walk-off grand slam to knock out the Wolves, 10-9. Later, in the day’s final game, the Vikings jumped out to a five-run lead early and held off the T-Birds, 6-4.
As North Kitsap celebrated, Tumwater coach Clay Hill and his team gathered for an extended postgame meeting down the right field line.
“I forgot to tell them beforehand about the last game of the season. Every team but one ends with a loss. One team celebrates, the others are disappointed,” he said. “We have eleven seniors and we told them how much we appreciated how far they took Tumwater during their careers. We told the underclassmen it’s theirs now, time for them to work on being the team that celebrates next year.”
Down 5-0 after two innings as Vikings centerfielder Ryan Hecker drove in three runs with a pair of doubles, Tumwater couldn’t get anything going as eight of the first 12 T-Birds batters hit the ball on the ground for outs and one scratch single.
Tumwater broke through in the fourth, scoring three times after a lead-off single by catcher Jackson Davis. Andrew Pullar drove home two with a sharp ground-ball double down the left field line, and Zack Jones knocked in another when three Viking fielders lost his fly-ball double in the sun.
“We kept telling our hitters to work the count, enjoy their at-bats and try to drive something up into the sunlight,” said Hill.
In the fifth, the T-Birds (16-6) pulled to within a run on back-to-back, one-out doubles by Noah Sirkel and Hayes.
But in the sixth, after Michael Wagar doubled into the right field gap and Austin Pullar singled him to third, North Kitsap coach Jeff Weible made a pitching change that proved effective.
Tyler Meek, who had gotten the win over Black Hills (14-9) in relief, moved to the mound from shortstop and struck out four of the seven T-Birds he faced. Meek had some location issues in the bottom of the seventh, going to a full count three times and walking Jacob Holbrook and Andrew Pullar with two outs, before closing out the game to get a save.
North Kitsap (20-3) will meet Ellensburg (21-3) at 4 p.m. Friday at Yakima County Stadium in a state semifinal.
W.F. West 10, Columbia River 9: W.F. West was the only area baseball team to advance out of the first round of the state playoffs, and the Bearcats did it in walk-off fashion at Wheeler Field in Centralia.
Entering the bottom of the seventh tied at 9-9, the Bearcats loaded the bases with two outs.
Tyson Guerrero, a junior, knocked a hit off of the left field wall, driving in Nole Wollan from third, who pumped his fist in the air as he scored the winning run.
The rest of the Bearcats roster emptied the dugout and crashed the field, piling on Guerrero at second base.
Earlier in the day, the Bearcats rallied for an 8-7 win over Eatonville to advance to the quarterfinals.
W.F. West (21-2) will meet Anacortes (18-7) in the 2A state semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday at County Stadium in Yakima.
Mercer Island 10, Capital 0: The state’s top-ranked 3A baseball team got out in front early, and eliminated Capital in the first round of the state playoffs.
The Islanders scored eight runs in the bottom of the first inning at Bannerwood Park in Bellevue to coast by the Cougars.
Tanner Johnson recorded Capital’s only hit on a single to short in the first inning.
Mercer Island pitcher Liam Dammeier pitched a complete-game shutout, striking out eight batters while walking two.
The Islanders scored two more runs in the bottom of the fifth to end the game by the 10-run rule. Capital finished its season at 15-11 after advancing to the state playoffs for the first time since 2010.
O’Dea 9, Timberline 4: The Blazers’ season ended at 18-7 with a loss to the Fighting Irish in the first round at Pasco High School.
O’Dea created an early gap, eventually leading 9-0 before Timberline rallied for four runs in the sixth.
The Blazers used three pitchers, but couldn’t keep O’Dea’s batters off the bases. Offensively, Timberline continually stranded runners.
“It was just one of those days when everything they hit finds a hole,” Timberline coach Mark Rubadue said. “It seemed like every time we got runners on, we couldn’t get that clutch hit to get some runs.”