It was a storybook kind of day for Newport of Bellevue as the Knights battled nearly 18 innings Saturday to advance to the semifinals of the Class 4A state baseball tournament.
In the quarterfinals, Newport faced defending state champion Puyallup at Art Wright Field at Kent Memorial Park. The Knights just beat Narrows League Timberline, 1-0 in nine innings, only an hour before facing the Vikings in the evening game.
And after deciding to play nine more against Puyallup, Newport found a way to upset the Vikings, 7-6, after Todd Reese brought home Ethan Paul with a game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth.
“I have to give my team a lot of credit for getting me to my opportunity at the plate,” said Reese about his team’s four-run comeback in the bottom of the ninth. “I just took the approach like I always do — just stay calm at the plate.”
Newport (22-2) moves on to face Gig Harbor (20-6), which defeated Kentwood, 1-0, at 7 p.m. Friday (May 29) at Joe Martin Stadium in Bellingham.
“It’s been a storybook kind of day … that was one of the best games I’ve ever coached,” Newport coach Brad Files said. “And I’ve been coaching 19 years now with a few state titles. This was really a special day for this team as they’re a veteran group who fought throughout these two games.”
To get that storybook ending, Newport had to overcome two late Puyallup leads, with the first comeback coming in the bottom of the seventh when the Vikings led 3-2.
With Newport pinch runner Conner Schilling at second, Puyallup starter Austin Stump (7.1 innings, nine strikeouts, two runs) fielded a come-backer from Paul Wells. Stump had Schilling caught between second and third, but went for the easy out at first.
Schilling took off for third and an errant throw from first sailed past Ryan Peterson, allowing Schilling to score and tie the game.
Puyallup (18-4) took a 6-3 lead in the top of the ninth when CJ Krippaehne was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, and Kenton Robillard laced an two-out, two-run single against Reese.
Then the Knights struck back again.
Leif Strom got the first out before giving up a walk and a single. Newport’s Thomas Day hammered a double to right, but only one run scored. Puyallup intentionally walked Ethan Paul — who hit a leadoff home run in the first — and then Jace Goforth dropped in a two-run single to tie the game at 6.
That’s when Reese smashed the game-winning single — a half inning after giving up the lead to Puyallup.
“It’s an incredible feeling to lift my team into the final four,” Reese said.
The storybook ended for Puyallup’s terrific year after winning the 4A state championship last season. The Vikings finished the season 18-4.
“You know, it just wasn’t our year,” Puyallup coach Marc Wiese said. “We had the chance to close them out twice and we didn’t do it … it just wasn’t meant to be.”