It didn’t matter to the Bonney Lake High baseball team if it was going up against an upset-minded Class 1A program or an established 4A team on Saturday afternoon at Cheney Stadium.
The 3A Panthers were set on playing their best — no matter the opponent or the venue.
Bonney Lake found a way to overcome Emerald Ridge starter Andrew Curran, coming up with a handful of clutch hits in a 4-1 victory in a nonleague contest at the home of the Triple A Tacoma Rainiers.
Games inside the iconic local stadium are meant to be fun, and for Bonney Lake (10-1), the hard-fought win made it easy to enjoy the moment.
“We certainly talk about enjoying every day and appreciating every day, whether that’s practice or (in games),” Bonney Lake coach Mike Olson said. “It doesn’t matter if we’re playing the smallest 1A school or the biggest 4A school, whether it’s the championship or inside Cheney Stadium. We appreciate the game and our time out here with each other.”
In a game where both teams moved players in and out of the lineup, it was Tyler McClain who secured the win with a fourth-inning RBI single to score Jacob Rasher from third and push the Panthers’ lead to 2-0.
That at-bat proved crucial, as Curran was rolling after giving up a run in the first inning, striking out six Bonney Lake batters before the rally.
“I worked a long time for this — get up there and hit it,” McClain said. “It felt really good.”
Curran struck out nine Panthers in six innings of work in the loss.
Emerald Ridge (5-4) tried for a late rally in the sixth. With runners at the corners, Bonney Lake reliever Gabe Witters tried for a pick-off attempt at first base, but the throw sailed over the bag, allowing Braeden Dorohoy to score from third to cut the lead to 2-1.
Bonney Lake answered with two more runs off ER errors in the seventh to move ahead 4-1 before standout freshman Matthew Grettler closed out with a clean seventh inning.
Despite picking up the loss, Curran was pleased with his first start of the season.
“Oh yeah, it felt great to be out on the mound today,” he said. “It was my first start for varsity and I just wanted to get the job done knowing (my teammates) had my back.”
Except for the hiccup in the top of the seventh, Emerald Ridge’s defense played sharp and forced Bonney Lake to be aggressive on the basepaths whenever it had a man on. The Panthers finished with four steals on the game.
“I felt really good, (but) they’re tough,” Curran said.
Offense has been the Jaguars’ main problem so far this season, and Saturday was no different as five Bonney Lake pitchers stifled Emerald Ridge’s bats throughout the game.
“It seems to be one play here or one play there that sets the tone, but we’re not hitting the ball real well right now,” Emerald Ridge coach Larry Marshall said. “Pitching stops that too, and (Bonney Lake) pitchers threw the right pitches at the right time and we didn’t capitalize. That’s a part of the whole process.”