Yes, Sumner High starting pitcher Johnny Staley got roughed up in the early innings Wednesday against Peninsula.
By the third inning, he’d given up five runs to the hot-hitting Seahawks.
But coach Casey Adcox’s opted to stay with his battle-tested senior, and the decision paid off. Staley eventually found his groove — and got some help from his offense — as Sumner rallied for an 8-5 win over Peninsula.
"Most guys, you’d probably pull a hook on, but that kid’s a senior," Sumner coach Casey Adcox said of Staley, who pitched a complete game. "He’s been through a lot of fires, so you give him a little rope. He’s pitched in a lot of big games. In the end, he didn’t have much left in the tank. He battled and he knows how to pitch."
Heading into the top of the third, Peninsula (4-13 overall, 3-8 SPSL 3A) senior pitcher Garrett Smith was cruising, but in the third, lost his ability to command his pitches. By the time the inning ended, Sumner had tied the game, and swung the momentum completely back in the Spartans favor.
The Spartans continued to threaten, and finally broke the 5-5 tie in the top of the seventh on Taurus Kukahiko’s RBI single.
"I wanted to be aggressive," Kukahiko said. "I didn’t want to let any strikes go past. I just wanted to get out there and be aggressive, hit the first fastball that came to me and just score runners."
Sumner (13-4, 9-2 league) added two more runs to lock down the victory. Adcox was pleased his team finally took advantage key opportunities.
"We really work on executing plays," he said. "That’s a big emphasis of what we do. And to that point in the game, we had missed on a lot of opportunities. The message for those guys is just going to be the power of execution in those situations. It just took one guy to trust himself in that situation. It won us the game in the end."
Sumner’s comeback win left Peninsula coach Pete Weymiller frustrated.
"It’s obviously very frustrating," Weymiller said. "We’re all frustrated. It’s hard when you’ve lost the games that we’ve lost, to believe that you can win. That takes a mental toughness to do."
Weymiller said Smith was maybe "pressing" a bit when he started to lose control.
"He was solid for (two) innings and then yeah, he just lost his control," Weymiller said. "But you can see what kind of potential he’s got."