It all came down to the final game of the regular season to decide second place in the Class 3A SPSL as Bonney Lake High hosted district rival Sumner.
Last week, Sumner (15-5, 11-3 league) needed a hope and a prayer that Auburn Mountainview (18-1, 14-0) could win both its games over Bonney Lake (15-5, 10-4). After the Lions won both games to claim the league title, it left a door open for the Spartans to leapfrog their rivals.
And that’s just what Sumner did after winning back-to-back games over Bonney Lake in as many days — closing out with a 9-2 victory Tuesday evening — to claim second place.
"We want to be playing well going into the playoffs, that’s for sure," Sumner coach Casey Adcox said. "When you’re playing your league rival, that’s like playoff baseball right there … we rose to the challenge."
With the win, Sumner will play the Narrows League’s No. 5 seed, Capital (11-9), at 10 a.m. Saturday at Kelso High in the opening round of the West Central District 3 tournament. The loss moves Bonney Lake to the No. 3 seed, and the Panthers will play Wilson (11-8) at 10 a.m. Saturday at Heidelberg Park in Tacoma.
Unlike Monday’s contest, which took extra innings for Sumner to pull out a 1-0 win, the Spartans came out firing in the first inning when designated hitter Johnny Staley laced a single into left field that scored Collin Wolf from second.
The Spartans pushed across two more runs in the second, getting an RBI single from Nathan Harrell to push Sumner’s lead to 3-0.
"I think the kids came out and played loose, but they knew what they had to do," Adcox said. "They executed and with a little bit of pressure off — that’s good going into the playoffs."
Sumner piled on five more runs in the fourth after Bonney Lake gifted the Spartans with seven free bases behind five walks, an error and a hit batter. Noah Massey drove in the fourth and fifth runs of the inning with an RBI single to push the lead to 8-0.
"You know, we just didn’t come out here ready for them today," Bonney Lake coach Mike Olson said. "Feel sorry for us for yesterday’s loss as we came out ready to play. Not today because we didn’t play like I’ve seen them play this year."
Bonney Lake will have to refocus these next few days heading into Saturday’s early matchup with Wilson.
If there’s any comfort to the Panthers falling to third place this year, it’s that last year’s squad finished the exact same placement before going on a tear into the playoffs. That team finished in second place at the 3A state tournament when the top two teams — Auburn Mountainview and Decatur —suffered early exits from the playoffs.
"We’ve lacked some experience late in games and in playoff (situations), so it’s good for them to go through that," Olson said. "They need to face that adversity … it’s a learning curve, and unfortunately we’re not at our best right now. We have three days to get ready, but we’ll be ready for Saturday."