Ben Wadowski walked onto the outfield grass at Safeco Field through a gate in center field. For a few moments, he said he envisioned he was among the Seattle Mariners’ Opening Day introductions.
Jordan Jones felt it walking out to the mound to pitch the top of the first inning.
“The best moment was just coming out of the dugout for that first inning,” Jones said. “Walking out to the mound and just getting that feeling of being in the bigs.”
The Kentwood High School senior said he models his windup after Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez. And Jones, a University of Washington signee, threw two perfect innings Saturday off that same pitcher’s mound where Hernandez once threw nine perfect innings.
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Kentwood and Auburn Mountainview combined to play 36 players on the major league field in a nonleague game the Conquerors went on to win 8-0.
It was part of the High School Baseball Classic, which for the past 10 years has allowed high school baseball teams the opportunity to play at Safeco Field.
Wadowski drove in a pair of runs with two singles for the Conquerors and Shane McGuire, whose older brother, Reese, is expected to start the major league season with Double-A Altoona in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, was 2 for 2 with a double, two RBIs and three runs scored.
The retractable roof was open, players and coaches were introduced prior to the game and highlights were played on the 11,425-square-foot outfield video screen — including Dominic Agron’s sixth-inning diving catch in center field for Kentwood (7-1).
But even with all that, Wadowski said he felt right at home.
“Just a lot nicer acoustics,” he said.
Auburn Mountainview (3-4) didn’t get its first hit until Alex McBee’s double in the fourth inning. The Lions had four hits for the game.
But Auburn Mountainview coach Glen Walker was more concerned with ensuring every eligible player had an opportunity to play rather than the outcome.
Lions shortstop Garrett Neiss was the first to bat and couldn’t help but think of how guys like Ken Griffey Jr. had stepped into the same batter’s box he was standing in.
“Every time,” Neiss said. “It was pretty thrilling.”
No one launched a ball to the Hit It Here Cafe in right field or Edgar’s Cantina in left, and the stadium seats were well short of hitting capacity — so it was just like a normal Mariners game.
The game also featured a pair of video screen staples at Mariners games — the hidden-ball Hat Trick game and the animated hydroplane races.
Jones said he chose the green hydro (yellow won). So did AMV’s Chandler Michalek. Wadowski was too busy heading to the Mariners’ bullpen to warm up to pitch the sixth inning.
To think, a notch in the win column was on the line.
The teams were not allowed in either of Safeco Field’s home or visiting clubhouses.
“Just the ambiance of this venue is probably the coolest thing ever,” Walker said. “Just to be walking out onto the field like they do at Opening Day is a special, special opportunity. I was snapping pictures as I’m walking. It’s pretty impressive.”
Kentwood coach Mark Zender missed the game because he had surgery for appendicitis on Tuesday.
Puyallup 2, Issaquah 0: Ryan Peterson singled home the game’s first run in the bottom of the fourth inning and Riley Pletcher added an insurance run with an RBI single the following inning to lift the Vikings to their fourth consecutive victory in the second and final game of the day at Safeco Field.
Michael Newstrom, a Washington State commit, tossed two perfect innings before being pulled. He raced off the mound in jubilation after hitting 90 mph and striking out the final batter of the second inning.
Puyallup (7-3) has outscored its seven in-state opponents 61-3. Each of its three losses came during a trip to California.
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