The Puyallup High School baseball team will be packing its bags this week for a trip to the Class 4A state semifinals in Pasco.
Puyallup ace Luke Heimlich pitched a complete-game shutout, allowing just three hits in the Vikings’ 2-0 victory against Gonzaga Prep in the regional final Saturday afternoon at Heidelberg Park in Tacoma.
The score was 0-0 through the first four innings. The Vikings got on the board on Levi Jordan’s single up the middle in the top of the fifth that scored courtesy runner Tristan Cleek from second base. Cleek was running for Heimlich, who started the inning with a leadoff double. Jordan added an insurance run when he scored on a passed ball to extend the Vikings’ lead.
Jordan said Heimlich, a junior left-hander, isn’t the kind of pitcher who requires a sizable lead.
“Getting Luke any kind of lead, even if it’s a one-run lead, you know he is going to get the job done,” Jordan said. “He is really a top-notch, confident pitcher, and our entire team has confidence in him.”
The Vikings managed just four hits off Gonzaga Prep ace Justin Blatner, but it was enough with the Oregon State-bound Heimlich dominating on the mound.
“Luke is really good. He is a workhorse, pounds the zone and is gritty. He is a difference-maker for us,” Vikings coach Marc Wiese said. “I’m pretty proud of that young man.”
Heimlich, who finished with seven strikeouts, said his team’s defense was on point throughout the game.
“Today I wasn’t on my strikeout stuff as much, but I was able to get a lot of ground balls. I know I can trust our defense to make plays. I knew Zach Needham (second baseman), Levi Jordan (shortstop) and Adam Stump (third baseman) were going to make the plays behind me,” Heimlich said.
The Vikings will head to Pasco’s Gesa Stadium on Friday and Saturday for a shot at their first state baseball title.
“The pressure is always on,” Jordan said. “We like that pressure. It feeds our intensity, and it feeds us.
“We’re going to take it one game at a time, and we want to go as far as we can go. Our next goal is to win the state championship.”
Wiese said his 26-0 squad is ready for the challenge.
“These guys got an opportunity to make history,” Wiese said. “We’re just going to play hard, and if it is meant to be, then it is meant to be. We’re just going to have fun.”
In the first round, Vikings senior pitcher Lane Griffin came through in the clutch against the Edmonds-Woodway Warriors.
The Vikings, who were clinging to a 1-0 lead, faced adversity with the Warriors loading the bases with just one out in the top of the sixth inning. Griffin responded to the challenge by getting Marc Campagnaro to fly out to center field for the second out and striking out Brett Stoneman to quell the threat.
Neither team scored in the seventh inning as the Vikings held on.
Griffin, who allowed just four hits in seven innings of work, said he did everything he could to remain calm when the bases were loaded in the top of the sixth.
“I was trying to stay relaxed. When the bases are loaded, it seems like everyone kind of wants to speed up the game, but I was just trying to slow it down again and try to make good pitches,” he said.
Puyallup’s run came in the bottom of the fourth on Tyler McDowell’s single to center field that scored Quinn Rawson from second base. McDowell went 2-for-3.