Kentwood baseball wins 4A title, beats Puyallup
PASCO — A quick review of the hitting numbers put up by the Kentwood baseball team brings to mind a team that mashes home runs and piles on double-digit run totals.
But the secret of the Conquerors’ success under coach Mark Zender is small ball. Has been all season, as it was Saturday night in the Class 4A state championship game against Puyallup.
The mighty Conks dinked their way to a 4-1 win over the Vikings.
They reached base with singles and walks, used bunts and baserunning to set the table and, inning by inning, built up a four-run lead while starting pitcher Taylor Jones sapped the life out of the Puyallup lineup through the first fourth innings.
“We’ve done that all year. This is a fundamental team,” Zender said after guiding Kentwood (25-2) to its third state title and second in three seasons. “We’re a small-ball team and it generates a lot of offense.”
Jones, hobbled to about 75 percent efficiency with a pulled groin, was 100 percent tough on the Vikings (22-6), who also finished runner-up in 2009.
He struck out eight, walked three and gave up just four hits.
“Amazing,” Zender said. “Tyler Jones pitched the game of his life.”
Jones also delivered at the plate with RBI singles in the first and third innings. Puyallup didn’t help its cause, with defensive miscues leading to an extra run in the third.
“We knew that Puyallup was high energy,” Jones said. “And if we jumped on them early, we could do some damage.”
As the Conks were piecing together a four-run margin, Jones was cruising on the mound.
He ran into some trouble in the bottom of the fourth, giving up an RBI double to Brendan Illies — a hit that Kentwood left fielder Carson McCord almost turned into a highlight-reel catch.
But with runners on second and third and one out, Jones struck his way out of further trouble.
Richland 10, Todd Beamer 7: The Titans chewed through five runs of the Bombers’ 10-2 lead in the bottom of the seventh, but their rally came up short in the third-place game.
Daniel Lee’s two-run single followed a pair of runs scored on errors and another forced in on Richie Apigo’s bases-loaded walk.
But the one-out rally ended when Richland reliever Nate Ruane came in and struck out the two batters he faced.
East Valley of Yakima 3, Sumner 0: The Spartans were held to four hits – three of them singles – by Hugo Lemus as the Red Devils took third place at County Stadium in Yakima. Sumner’s fourth-place finish is the highest in school history.
Lemus struck out six to outduel Sumner’s Brandon Boydm but loaded the bases in the seventh inning before getting a pop-up to end the game.
The News Tribune staff contributed to this report.