The Puyallup High School baseball team’s bats were quiet one time through the lineup in Saturday’s 4A West Central/Southwest district championship against Kentwood.
But when they came alive, they did so in a big way — to the tune of five home runs.
The top-ranked Vikings hit three home runs in the fourth inning and two in the fifth, in a 9-4 victory over Kentwood for the top seed from the district to the state playoffs.
Senior Zack Larson started the power surge in the top of the fourth inning with a solo home run to left field. Senior Tallon Yerbury followed with a two-run home run to left two batters later to give the Vikings a 3-0 lead. Another two batters later, the Vikings struck again as Henry Search blasted a two-run shot to straight away center field, giving the Vikings a 5-0 lead and breaking the game open.
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"As hitters, you feed off each other," Yerbury said. "You feed off of each other’s momentum and energy. Once (Larson) started that, it was a trickle-effect from there and it just didn’t stop. It was pretty awesome."
Puyallup earned a date in the first round of the 4A state playoffs against Tahoma at 1 p.m. Saturday at Heidelberg Park in Tacoma with the winner of that facing the winner of Glacier Peak-Chiawana later that day.
The Vikings had just one hit in the first three innings, but the three home runs in the top of the fourth chased Kentwood starter Matt Franceschina from the game. Franceschina pitched 3 2/3 innings, giving up five runs, three of which were earned, and five hits.
Puyallup continued the onslaught in the top of the fifth inning as Larson hit another home run to left and Yerbury hit a three-run home run to left center off Kentwood reliever Chase Martin to give the Vikings a 9-0 lead.
Yerbury finished the game 2-for-4 with two home runs and five RBI.
"Any time you can hit two home runs and drive in five runs, that’s a really good day at the ballyard," Puyallup coach Marc Wiese said. "We expect Tallon Yerbury to do big things like that. He’s lightning in a bottle and has really good power. Let’s keep on trying to find some barrel."
Wiese said his team hasn’t necessarily hit for power this year, but it accounted for all nine of its runs via the home run against the Conquerors.
"I just think they capitalized on getting some pitches that they could drive, and they didn’t miss them," Wiese said. "I thought we missed a few early on in the game and earlier today (in a 4-0 semifinal win over Kentlake). Sometimes hitting is a little contagious, and hopefully we’re hitting next week."
The nine runs cushion was more the enough for senior starting pitcher Michael Spellacy, who pitched six innings, striking out six and giving up just four hits on 96 pitches.
"He’s been phenomenal for us all year," Wiese said. "He’s just an unbelievable competitor."
The Vikings started the season with losses to sixth-ranked Battle Ground and third-ranked Federal Way, but since have reeled off 21 straight wins entering the state tournament, which begins next weekend.
"The first two losses, I think we were just trying to find out rhythm and I don’t think we were as well in sync," Yerbury said. "We caught our rhythm real quick and it hasn’t stopped since."