The Gig Harbor High School baseball team likes to play in Cheney Stadium.
The last time the Tides played in the home of the Tacoma Rainiers — the Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners — was the 1997 Class 3A state title game in 1997. Gig Harbor defeated Capital, 9-8, to win the title.
Eighteen years later, the good luck at Cheney continues for the Tides. Thanks to timely hitting and stellar pitching, Gig Harbor (5-0 overall, 1-0 Narrows 4A) knocked off South Kitsap on Friday afternoon, 4-2, pushing Gig Harbor’s all-time record at Cheney Stadium to 3-0.
Senior left handed pitcher Matthew Henckel, a University of Oregon commit, pitched four hitless innings, and junior Michael Toglia did the rest, carrying the combined no-hitter into the seventh inning before giving up a couple runs.
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"I was pitching like I always pitch. I was just hitting my spots," Henckel said. "Everything was working for me. I was just commanding my fastball in and out. Everything felt good."
It’s early in the season, so Tides’ coach Pete Jansen, who coached that same title-winning squad in 1997, doesn’t want any of his pitchers going more than about four innings, even if they have a no-hitter going.
"We’ve got a lot of really good pitchers and we’re just building up everyone’s strength, stretching them out slowly," Jansen said. "We don’t want any arm injuries. Maybe halfway through the season, maybe Henckel’s ready to go six or seven."
Henckel didn’t mind giving the ball to Toglia, a Washington State commit.
"I was fine handing it off to him," Henckel said. "I know Mike’s a great pitcher and I knew he’s going to pitch a good game."
Gig Harbor did all its scoring with a barrage of doubles in the second inning. Sophomore Chad Stevens got the hit parade started with a double down the left field line. Senior Garrett Lean followed with another, and junior Andrew Parker with another. Singles off the bats of junior Colton Robinson and senior Wyatt Elledge made the score 4-0.
"It felt good to get the nerves out, and then everyone started hitting," Stevens said.
While the hitting has been somewhat inconsistent so far in the season for the Tides, the pitching has been phenomenal.
"In five games, we’ve given up 10 runs," Jansen said. "Of those 10 runs, five of them are earned. Our ERA is probably a little under 1 as a team. We started hitting the ball today."
Gig Harbor boasts an undefeated record to this point.
"We’re young, but we’re playing really well," Henckel said. "Sometimes we’re not hitting the ball the best, but we always string something together."