Pete Jansen had an end-of-season speech prepared Saturday afternoon, but he didn’t get to use it.
Gig Harbor’s baseball team won, 10-9, after coming back from an 8-0 deficit against Lakeside of Seattle at Curtis High School.
“I had multiple speeches ready,” Jansen said. “I had the ‘Fifth place finish in state, we had a great year’ speech ready to go.”
The Tides scored often in their first playoff game of the day, a 6-3 victory against Bainbridge, but struggled to score early in their second contest.
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Contrastingly, the Lions scored runs at ease. After getting a run on three hits in the first, Lakeside added three more runs off three hits in the third. By the end of the fourth, the Lions held an 8-0 lead.
Tides first baseman Austin Dempewolf, who hit a two-run home run to center field in Gig Harbor’s first game, sparked the comeback in the top of the fifth with a solo homer.
“To be honest, our team had no energy whatsoever,” Dempewolf said. “We were dead. But, I thought, ‘What better way to get the team up than keep us in the game?’ I let that ball get in and see how far it can go.”
The Lions maintained a seven-run lead throughout the inning, but Jansen told his players to maintain an aggressive approach.
“I said, ‘You can’t get eight runs in one swing, so we just need lots of base runners,’ ” Jansen said.
Jansen’s squad responded with a seven-run sixth inning. Senior Chad Stevens scored Cameron Macintosh with a triple to center field. Then, Jordan Haworth reached on an error while Stevens scored, cutting the deficit to 8-3.
Three batters later, sophomore Cole Smith cleared the bases with a double, closing the gap to 8-6.
Entering the bottom of the sixth with an 8-7 lead, Lakeside added a run with a sacrifice fly to left field.
Needing two runs to tie, Haworth stepped up to the plate in the top of the seventh and blasted a game-tying home run, sending Gig Harbor’s dugout — and fans — into a frenzy.
Then, with the bases full of Tides, senior Tanner Hardy made the score 10-9 with an RBI single to right field.
Three outs away from sealing a trip to Safeco Field, Jacob Bonnell took the mound. After Bonnell gave up a leadoff single, however, Jansen opted to put in Avery Jones. Jones struck out eight of the 14 batters he faced in his first appearance of the day, and told Jansen he had one more inning in him.
“Avery Jones was a bulldog today, man,” Jansen said. “He wanted the ball.”
Jones struck out three Lions batters in order to end the game.
“I wanted to finish it off for the fellas,” Jones said. “It’s been a long year. … It’s really unexplainable. You only experience it while you’re in the moment. I don’t know how we did that. It’s really unbelievable.”