Prep baseball: Unbeaten Puyallup on to regionals

Contributing writerMay 18, 2014 

For a team that recently has been in the national high school baseball rankings, remains undefeated this late in the season and is under pressure to deliver a Class 4A state title, the Puyallup Vikings are a pretty loose bunch.

The Vikings’ play Saturday in the Class 4A West Central/Southwest bidistrict playoffs mirrors that cool and collected feeling.

Puyallup, the state’s top-ranked 4A team, picked up two wins via the 10-run mercy rule — the second a 10-0 beat-down of South Kitsap — at Kent Memorial Park, wrapping up the bidistrict’s No. 1 seed to next weekend’s regional tournament.

If the Vikings win both games, they’ll head to Pasco for the state semifinals May 30.

“We’re going to leave it on the field and play hard, and if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be,” Puyallup coach Marc Wiese said.

“These guys have already built their legacy, and they’ve got a chance to do some special things.”

Puyallup (24-0) opened the day by throttling Todd Beamer, 15-2, to advance to the bidistrict championship game.

After being kept in check by South Kitsap starter Mac McCarthy through three innings, the Vikings finally got things going. Up 1-0 entering the fourth, Puyallup pushed five runs across the plate. New Mexico-bound senior Quinn Rawson blooped a two-run single to get the barrage started, then Darian Clemens added an RBI single and Tyler McDowell followed with a run-scoring double.

“We did a great job. ... (McCarthy) had 47 pitches after two (innings), and our approach was there,” Wiese said. “Our plan was to get the pitch count up. It feels pretty good to beat their guy.”

The Vikings opened the flood gates in the fifth against Cooper Canton. Levi Jordan laced a two-run single, and McDowell ended the game with another two-run single.

“We were just real consistent on just not reaching out for those balls or making the strike zone bigger,” said McDowell, who earned the win on the mound against Beamer and drove in five runs with three hits in the second game. “We were keeping it close — where we wanted it. We were just looking for our one pitch, and we were getting it.”

Rawson put together an outstanding line in Saturday’s two games, going 4-for-5 with two home runs — one a grand slam — and 10 RBIs. He also walked twice.

“I don’t think there is a weak part of our lineup at all,” Rawson said. “That’s what makes us deadly. Whenever there is a situation and somebody needs to be clutch, everybody does their job.”

Senior pitcher Lane Griffin earned the win for the Vikings, giving up just two hits to South Kitsap (19-5) through five innings.

“Lane did a great job,” Wiese said. “He’s been gritty for us all year.”

Now the real test begins for the Vikings, who open regional play at 1 p.m. Saturday at Heidelberg Park. Ace Luke Heimlich will get the start.

“It’s all or nothing for us at this point,” Wiese said.

Puyallup lost to Heritage of Vancouver in the regional round last year, a game also played at Heidelberg Park.

Rawson isn’t worried. The Vikings were tested in a 3-2, extra-inning win over Gig Harbor last week, and that seems like ages ago after Saturday’s offensive explosion.

“I think the Gig Harbor game was our dud game,” he said. “(The dud) was kind of our Heritage game last year, so I think we got that out of the way.

“So we’re just going to dominate every other team that we play because we have good confidence, good pitching and good hitting — everything.”

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