The Gig Harbor High baseball team had already wrapped up a spot in the Class 4A state tournament prior to its West Central District 3 playoff games Saturday against Federal Way and Kentwood, thanks to a 6-0 win over Tahoma on May 10.
That cushion turned out to be a good thing, as Gig Harbor lost both games, 2-1 to Federal Way and 3-1 to Kentwood.
While the Tides were in both games until the end, they only managed to score two runs total in those contests. But Gig Harbor coach Pete Jansen isn’t concerned.
“There’s a lot of good teams that are playing,” Jansen said. “We scored two runs, the other team scored five runs. It’s probably going to be like that. I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of blowouts.”
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Whether Gig Harbor can generate runs or not, it will likely make it difficult on other teams to score runs with ace senior Mike Toglia and rising star Avery Jones, a Washington State commit.
Jones, who stands about 6-foot-5, has seen his stock rise quickly for Gig Harbor and has solidified himself as the team’s No. 2 pitcher behind Toglia. Against Federal Way, Jones threw 70 pitches over seven innings, punching out eight and only allowing two hits.
“He stands tall, throws downhill,” Jansen said. “He’s got a real nice curveball that a lot of the guys are swinging over and missing. He really pitched a great game.”
Gig Harbor (16-7) will face Mount Si (18-5) out of the KingCo 4A league at 1 p.m. Saturday (May 21) at Heritage Park in Puyallup.
“They have a similar record to ours,” Jansen said. “We don’t know a lot about them.”
Toglia will get the call on the mound for Gig Harbor. While some coaches may opt to save their ace for the hypothetical second game, Jansen said he doesn’t see the logic behind that decision.
“It’s a no-brainer,” he said. “You have to go with your best. If you don’t win the first game, you go home. If anybody wants to save their ace, they’re gambling.”
A win could set up a possible rematch with Kentwood. Kentwood ace Jordan Jones, a University of Washington signee, faced Gig Harbor for two innings in the last meeting.
“He was pretty good,” Jansen said. “We’ve seen him now. I don’t know whether he would save his ace for the second game. That’ll be interesting to see what he does. We’re working this week on shortening up our swing and putting the ball in play. Some of these guys want to stick with their big, long swings, and we can’t do that. That’s our goal this week — no strikeouts. Make the defense make some plays. There’s a lot of good teams and good pitchers.”
Gig Harbor made it to the final four last season, ultimately taking third in the state tournament. To get back there, it comes down to pitching and defense, according to Jansen.
“You need two solid games out of your starters and you have to make the routine play on defense,” he said. “I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to score some runs. We don’t want any walks.”