It was after a loss in the West Central District semifinals less than two weeks ago when Bonney Lake baseball coach Michael Olson noticed a disturbing trend.
His players were angry. They were bickering with one another. No one was having fun.
“We had kind of hit a low spot,” Olson said.
Well, one gigantic heart-to-heart team meeting seemed to be the proper tonic at the right time. The Panthers have been unbeatable since.
Riding a 10-run second inning, the Panthers walloped favored Shorewood, 12-3, in the Class 4A semifinals at Gesa Stadium in Pasco.
Bonney Lake (18-10), which finished third in the SPSL 3A, will face O’Dea for the state title at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The Panthers destroyed Shorewood ace Sam Boone, a Washington State University signee who struggled for the first time this season.
“We definitely had a great approach at the plate,” Olson said. “(Boone) had trouble locating his off-speed stuff. ... He did not know what to do. He had not been faced with that situation very much.”
Boone never got out of a wild second inning. Consider:
• Bonney Lake had six hits. Five were singles.
• The Panthers took six walks against Boone and relievers Andy Carpenter and Cole McKisson.
• Sixteen Bonney Lake hitters came to the plate in the decisive second inning.
“It took a while,” Olson said. “It was crazy.”
The big blow was left fielder Taiki Green’s two-run double down the left-field line that gave the Panthers a 6-3 lead.
Green added a triple in the third inning to give the Panthers some insurance runs. He finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs.
“When he gets locked in, nobody is a better hitter,” Olson said.
South Kitsap 10, Wenatchee 0: The Wolves (22-5) wasted no time taking control against the Panthers.
Mac McCarty went 4-for-4, and relieved Logan Knowles in the fourth inning to pick up the victory in Pasco.
Because they scored eight runs in the first two innings – six coming in the second inning – South Kitsap coach Marcus Logue had the luxury of taking Knowles out early enough to save him for the 4A title game against Puyallup. “It worked out exactly how we planned it,” Logue said.
The second-year coach said he likely will start McCarty against the Vikings, who have beaten the 4A Narrows champs twice this season — the last coming in the district title game, 10-0, on May 17.
“We are the underdog — and I like that we have that mentality,” Logue said. “Our guys are loose, relaxed and have that sense there is nothing to lose.”
Lake Washington 10, Tumwater 1: Sloppy play in the fourth inning led to the Thunderbirds’ downfall against the Kangaroos in a semifinal in Yakima.
Tumwater (22-5) hit four batters and walked another and threw a wild pitch as Lake Washington (18-9) blew it open by scoring four runs in the fourth.
The T-Birds will face Anacortes (17-10) for third place at 10 a.m. Saturday.