It’s a play Puyallup High School baseball coach Marc Wiese calls maybe once or twice a year.
With Zach Needham at third base and Brendan Illies on first, Wiese called for Illies to take off for second before the pitcher’s delivery. Illies stalled long enough for Needham to sneak onto home plate before being tagged — bringing home the second run of the first inning.
“The trick is to stare the pitcher down and hope he won’t know what to do with it,” Illies said. “It’s a little mind game. It worked out good. Sometimes it doesn’t.”
It was a critical — and gutsy — play in a 3-2 victory for 4A South Puget Sound League South champ Puyallup over Todd Beamer, the 4A SPSL Northwest champ. The win gives the Vikings the No. 1 seed out of the SPSL for next week’s 4A West Central District Tournament.
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Puyallup (15-2, 11-1 4A SPSL South) will play Decatur at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Kent Memorial Field in the first round of the district tournament, with a win guaranteeing a berth in the regional round of the state tournament.
Wednesday’s win over Beamer — which spent the past 11 years playing Puyallup in the SPSL South before moving to the new SPSL Northwest division this season — was the 90th career victory for some of Puyallup’s four-year seniors — including Illies and Needham.
“I don’t know how many kids have won 90 games in their career, but our guys did it,” Wiese said. “That was a big one for me.
“They just go out and compete every day. Every game is a playoff game and that is the way we’ve always approached it. They’ve done that since they were ninth-graders.”
Illies, a University of North Carolina commit, added an RBI single on an opposite-field hit to right in the top of the third to push the Vikings’ lead to 3-0.
Christopher Micheles didn’t let Beamer get on the scoreboard through six innings. But the left-handed transfer from Emerald Ridge started to lose location and velocity in the seventh.
Beamer’s first two runners reached base before Micheles got the first out of the inning on his fourth strikeout. He was pulled for Leif Strom, who got another strikeout before Beamer lead-off hitter Jalen Prather singled to center field to score Andy McBride and Tommy Davis and cut Puyallup’s lead to one.
That with Beamer’s hottest hitter coming to the plate.
Ben Arata homered in the eighth inning of Beamer’s win over Kentwood last week, but Strom struck him out with the game-tying run at first base.
Micheles’ final line: 61/3 innings, five hits, two earned runs and four strikeouts on 100 pitches.
“We were where we wanted to be,” Beamer coach Jerry Peterson said. “I’m proud of our kids. We hung in there and battled back against a good team. We’re hoping we can see them again.”
Beamer plays Kentwood at 4 p.m. Thursday at Kent Memorial Park with the winner earning the No. 2 seed to districts and the loser taking the third seed.
Tahoma 9, Decatur 3: Cooper Larson and Jake Malone each had three hits and Daniel Nist had a double, scored a run and drove in another to lift the Bears to the SPSL’s No. 5 seed.
Tahoma will play 4A Narrows champ South Kitsap at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Heidelberg Park in Tacoma in the first round of the WCD tournament. The winner of that game is guaranteed a berth to the regional round of the state tournament.