Players from the Puyallup High School baseball team knelt in a row in front of coach Marc Wiese.
They listened to his postgame speech after the Vikings’ 10-0 win in six innings against Thomas Jefferson on Tuesday at Art Wright Field in Kent.
Kids from the youth team Wiese coaches held a paper banner behind them, and some of his former players stood to the side in the mix of parents. One grabbed Wiese so he wouldn’t run off and miss out on being honored for his 400th career coaching victory in his 21st season coaching Puyallup.
“I don’t like this kind of stuff,” Wiese said.
“Marc, get in that photo,” one parent demanded.
Then Wiese, the 1987 41st-round draft pick by the New York Mets known for his fiery competitive nature as the Vikings’ coach, actually got a little choked up.
“I didn’t know this was happening tonight,” he said after improving to 400-105, becoming the fifth active coach in the state to reach that milestone.
“I had a little suspicion there was maybe something, but not to this extent. It’s so rewarding to be respected like that.”
That his 400th win came on the same night Puyallup clinched its ninth consecutive 4A state tournament berth made it slightly more special.
Puyallup (18-3) broke the game open with four runs in the fourth inning to take a 5-0 lead. Washington State University commit Michael Newstrom allowed one hit in four innings before Austin Stump tossed two scoreless innings of relief, allowing one hit.
The Vikings tacked on four more runs in the bottom of sixth, including Ryan Peterson’s two-run single to end the game via the 10-run mercy rule.
Puyallup advances to the 4A West Central District semifinals to face Kentwood at 1 p.m. Saturday at Art Wright Field — the same place it beat Kentwood last week for the 4A SPSL title.
But more important than the win, Peterson said, was getting Wiese that win.
“Just because I wouldn’t be who I am, and I personally believe none of us would be here today without Wiese,” Peterson said.
He said the practices sometimes get scary when Wiese is at his most fiery, or when they re-work a drill 10 times because they messed up once. But Peterson and senior first baseman Kenton Robillard said they’ve never seen Wiese more wired than after Puyallup capped its 28-0 season with the 4A state title two years ago.
“There’s nothing that compares to that. I didn’t even play and he got me pumped,” Robillard said. “That was the most fired up I’ve seen him.
“A lot of people say he’s cocky or arrogant. He just plays the game hard and he knows how to coach. He tells us about how when he played long ago (at Wilson High School) he was an emotional guy. You can see that. He is fired up for us. He wants us to play our best and he wants us to go out and win ball games and that’s what he makes us do.”
Former Vikings and current UW teammates Ryan Schmitten — this past week’s Pac-12 player of the week (which Wiese loudly shouted after hugging him) — and Levi Jordan were there. So was Wiese’s stepson, Jackson, and the rest of the Northwest Prospects Academy team that Wiese coaches.
“He cares about his players, and he cares about the success of his players,” Jordan said. “He’s fiery, but at the same time he really cares about you.”
Puyallup clinched its 16th state berth in Wiese’s 21 years.
Jefferson, which has reached state just three times in school history, heads to a loser-out game against Kentlake at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Art Wright Field. Kentlake defeated Yelm, 1-0, in a loser-out game Tuesday.
Wiese said in 1996 following a season-ending loss to top-ranked Hudson’s Bay that Puyallup baseball had come a long way.
So how far has it come since then?
“I told Mike Huard (the former Puyallup football coach), who was a dear friend of mine, that Puyallup was going to be a baseball school, not only a football school,” Wiese said. “And we’ve done that. I’m really proud of that.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
4A teams clinch state berth
(defeated Tahoma, 6-0)
(beat Emerald Ridge, 3-2)
(defeated Timberline, 4-1)
(beat Jefferson, 10-0)