When Gig Harbor pitching coach Larry Carlson handed the baseball to left-handed junior Mike Toglia in the third inning, Toglia knew he was going to win the game against Kentwood in the Class 4A state quarterfinals.
“I looked him in the eye and said, ‘It’s over. I got this,’ ” Toglia said.
His confidence was not misplaced. Over the next four innings, Toglia gave up one hit and no runs to Kentwood, guiding Gig Harbor to a 1-0 victory at Heidelberg Field on Saturday afternoon.
“I was feeling good, I had the adrenaline running,” Toglia said. “I felt ready to go.”
All he needed was a little run support. Despite dominating on the mound, Gig Harbor struggled to generate offense against Kentwood pitcher Chris Hastings, who was determined to out-duel Toglia.
But Gig Harbor senior first baseman Grant Sutton got a hold of a first-pitch change-up in the top of the seventh inning, rocketing the ball over the fence in left field, giving Toglia the only run he would need.
“(Hastings) was throwing a lot of junk, curve and change the whole game, and I just wanted to sit back,” Sutton said. “I think I was a little ahead of it. In my mind, I just wanted to get a good piece on it and I did.”
Toglia was happy his effort wouldn’t go to waste.
“It was a huge relief to get that monkey off our back,” Toglia said. “Their pitcher was good, he was keeping us off-balance. He pitched well. Grant come through with a clutch home run.”
Toglia was giddy after the game, saying it’s the most excited he’s ever been. The Tides defeated University of Spokane Valley earlier in the day, 3-0, with senior Matthew Henckel giving up only two hits and no runs. Henckel and Toglia combined for 14 innings of scoreless baseball.
Kentwood coach Mark Zender gave credit to Toglia and Sutton, who hit a good pitch out of the park.
“It wasn’t even a mistake,” Zender said. “It was a change-up away, down in the zone. We’re not really sure how he made that kind of contact, honestly. You just have to give their kid credit. Our kid made a great pitch; sometimes the batter just does a great job and you’ve just got to tip your cap to them.”
Zender was impressed with Toglia and happy with his team’s approach at the plate, noting they hit several balls hard — just right at defenders.
“(Toglia) did a great job,” Zender said. “He mixed speeds and location and he pitched. He wasn’t overpowering. We squared up a lot of balls today. I don’t know how many we hit hard, right at them, deep into the outfield. All day long. If you can get your team to do that against a good pitcher, you’re going to win 95 percent of the time. The ball just wasn’t falling for us. They’re a good team. They just got the right one at the right time.”
Gig Harbor will face Newport of Bellevue on Friday at Joe Martin Stadium in Bellingham in the Class 4A state tournament semifinals.
South Kitsap 7, Skyline 3: The Wolves are one game away from reaching the 4A state championship game for the third consecutive year.
Mac McCarty pitched all seven innings for South Kitsap against the Spartans. He allowed three runs (none earned) and struck out seven on 114 pitches. That after hitting a double, a triple and pitching one inning of relief in a 10-6 win over Skyview to reach the quarterfinals.
South Kitsap advances to face Decatur at 4 p.m. Friday at Joe Martin Stadium in Bellingham.
Decatur 4, Walla Walla 2: Garrett Westberg dominated in the morning then Taylor Havlicek carried the Gators the rest of the way.
Decatur had to travel all the way to Yakima County Stadium to first topple Wenatchee, 3-1, then got a complete-game performance from Havlicek — who was starting his first game since spraining his wrist about a month ago — against Walla Walla to advance to the state semifinals.
That came after Westberg struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings and hit a two-run double with two outs in the sixth to come back from a 1-0 deficit and end Wenatchee’s season.
“Those two were outstanding today,” Decatur coach Korey Sites said. “And Garrett has pretty much put us on his back these past couple of weeks.”
Decatur (15-14) is one of three teams from the 4A West Central District to advance to the final four. Newport will be the lone team at Joe Martin Stadium in Bellingham next week not from the WCD.