The White River High School baseball team had won each of its first six league games to start the season.
Then it ran into Tanner Knapp.
The Fife junior hadn’t allowed an earned run in his previous three starts. That didn’t change Tuesday as he struck out nine in seven innings to lead Fife to an 11-0 victory in Buckley.
“Their pitcher was better than our hitters,” Hornets coach Mike Williams said. “He just had more velocity than we’ve seen all season.”
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Knapp (4-0) said he’s topped out at 87 mph on his fastball, but it was how he mixed it with his curveball and change-up that hurt White River most. He held the Hornets to five hits.
The Seattle University recruit was also 2 for 5 with an RBI as the Trojans’ No. 3 hitter.
“I just pounded the zone, just went after guys,” Knapp said. He efficiently completed the shutout on 94 pitches — 69 of them for strikes.
“I really worked on getting my ball-to-strike ratio down in the offseason and just getting better every day. I just knew that I needed to work my tail off.”
Fife gave him plenty of support. The Trojans (9-2 overall, 6-1 2A SPSL) struck for four runs in the top of the first inning with consecutive run-scoring singles from Mateo Guerrero, Jalen Cope and Chase Anderson.
That allowed Knapp to get comfortable. He struck out the side in the third, needing just six pitches to get two of the outs.
“I knew we would have to get going early and we did,” Fife coach Shane Nixon said. “Give Tanner that many runs and most days he’s going to shut the other team down.
“He’s just so confident and focused when he’s pitching. He hit his spots.”
Even as rain and some hail came down.
Williams said White River (8-4; 6-1) hasn’t lost a game by such a margin in about 10 years. The Hornets’ last loss this season was March 19 against Enumclaw (3-1) and they went on to win their next four by an average of about 15 runs.
But White River took the past week off for spring break.
“We haven’t touched a baseball in a week, so we really didn’t know what to prepare for,” Williams said. “And we just didn’t have a very soft landing.
“We haven’t played a team as good as Fife in league play yet and we haven’t been beat like that in a long time.”
The Trojans put the game away with six runs in the seventh inning.
Anderson was 3 for 4 with two RBIs and Cope had two hits and two RBIs. Fife and White River play again at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Fife High School. Jaden Hassell and Kevin Nakamura each had two hits as well for Fife.
“This just says that we are a good ball club,” Nixon said. “This was big. We still got a lot of work to do, though.”