The Puyallup High School baseball team isn’t undefeated like it was three years ago, but the Vikings’ could match that season’s historic finish with a win Saturday.
Puyallup defeated Skyview, 5-4, at Safeco Field in Seattle on Friday after blowing a three-run lead in the fourth inning. The victory puts the Vikings in Saturday’s 4A state championship game against Kentlake.
After losing its first two games of the season, Puyallup (24-2) finds itself one win from its second state championship in four seasons. Coach Marc Wiese said his team made a goal to replicate the 2014 team’s effort by going undefeated and winning the title.
“I think they put a lot of pressure on themselves early on,” Wiese said. “We weren’t very good the first two games, but we’ve got a 24-game winning streak right now.”
Trailing 4-3 in the sixth, the Vikings caught a break.
Gavin Grant hit a leadoff double to put senior Zack Larson in the batter’s box. Larson struck out swinging, but a passed ball allowed him to reach first while Grant advanced to third. Two batters later, third baseman Carter Wallace came through with a two-run single.
“It was a game of breaks ... It was one of those,” Wiese said. “It was a fun game to coach. I’m sure it was a fun game to watch, but yeah, we were pretty fortunate there.”
Starting pitcher Michael Newstrom dominated early, allowing one hit over the first three innings. But in the fourth the Storm broke through with three runs to tie the game.
After giving up another run in the fifth, Newstrom responded with a perfect sixth, striking out the side to end his performance. Newstrom said he keeps to himself when he’s pitching, but once he’s in the dugout, he becomes an intense motivator.
Newstrom pointed to Larson as another senior who leads the team vocally.
“He’s a chicken with his head cut off every game,” Newstrom said. “He’s got the most energy on the team. All the seniors have been crucial leaders, especially at this point to keep the dugout alive and keep the energy up.”
With one game remaining in the Vikings’ season, that 0-2 start is a distant memory. Not quite as distant as what Newstrom said he remembers hearing before his sophomore season, his first year at Puyallup.
“Word on the street was Puyallup was reigning champs and 28-0 was really impressive” Newstrom said. “ I know for the seniors who won it their freshman year, to go out on top their senior year and do it two times in four years is going to be an unbelievable feeling and an awesome experience.”