Puyallup High School, behind the strong pitching of Lane Griffin and a five-run third inning, defeated South Kitsap 7-1 in Saturday’s Class 4A baseball state title game at Gesa Stadium to cap a perfect season at 28-0.
Senior Quinn Rawson, The News Tribune’s player of the year, described winning the school’s first baseball state title as “ridiculous”
“It’s unexplainable” Rawson said. “We’ve been waiting for this all year ... finally, a state championship”
The undefeated season is the first for a 4A program since Travis Snider’s Jackson Timberwolves went 26-0 on their way to defeating Auburn, 7-1, in the 2006 title game.
Longtime coach Marc Wiese said he believes his Vikings should be in the conversation for one of the state’s all-time best teams, joining the likes of other undefeated 4A teams – that 2006 Jackson team and the Willie Bloomquist-led South Kitsap team of 1996 that went 23-0 and beat Richland, 13-4, for the state crown.
Wiese’s team climbed as high as No. 3 in the national USA Today high school baseball rankings.
“When people talk about the best teams ever out of the state of Washington, we have to be mentioned” Wiese said. “They did it big – big time”
Facing South Kitsap for the third time this season, Griffin allowed one earned run on five hits and struck out two over six innings.
Already leading 2-0, Puyallup broke the game open in the third, scoring five times to take a 7-0 lead. A four-pitch walk to Rawson and Darian Clemens getting hit by a pitch loaded the bases for Tyler McDowell, who hit a two-run double. He was the first of four consecutive batters to drive in runs. The cleanup through seventh hitters – McDowell, Zach Needham, Adam Stump and Luke Heimlich – combined for five hits and five RBIs.
The Wolves (22-6), appearing in their second consecutive 4A title game, were plagued by errors early – finishing with four – which second-year coach Marcus Logue attributed to jitters. The team committed nine errors in last year’s 8-5 loss to Skyview in the title game.
“That number on the far right (of the scoreboard) again hurt us with the four errors” Logue said. “Those are plays you have to be able to make against a team like that; otherwise, they are going to take advantage”
South Kitsap, which had seven hits to Puyallup’s five, had an opportunity to get back into the game in the sixth. Mac McCarty singled in a run to load the bases, but the threat died after Griffin struck out Jack Oswood on a 3-2 pitch.
The victory for Puyallup was sweet, Rawson said, after the team’s recent near misses. The Vikings lost in the 2012 title game and were eliminated last year in the regionals after winning 22 games .
“Being eliminated in the (regional round), that was our motivation the most” Rawson said. “The sophomores, juniors and freshmen are going to keep our legacy going”
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473