One way to calm the nerves of playing in a district championship baseball game: Score early and score often.
The Gig Harbor High School baseball team did just that on Saturday afternoon in the West Central III/Southwest bidistrict Class 3A championship game at Heidelberg Park, posting a six-run first inning en route to an 8-3 win over Mountain View High School.
After Mountain View took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the first inning, Gig Harbor’s players wanted a quick response.
“(Leadoff hitter Cade) Dessert started it off and then every other guy just came up there and put great swings on the ball,” said Gig Harbor second baseman Grady Glover, who went 2-for-3 and drove in three runs. “It was just that huge energy and just a big momentum shifter.”
Gig Harbor coach Pete Jansen said the inning was a good showcase of the work the players have been putting with their hitting approach.
“We’ve been working on opposite-field hitting all year long,” Jansen said. “It has really paid off. When we can get these guys to stop trying to pull the ball all the time and use the whole field, it just opens it all up. It’s really clicking for us right now.”
That first-inning offensive explosion gave Tides’ starting pitcher Luke Finnigan a five-run cushion to work with, and he took advantage, holding Mountain View to just three runs over six innings of work.
“It feels great,” Finnigan said. “Being underdogs and beating a team that’s second in state is unbelievable. We compete. We’re good competitors. We all believe we’re going to win. We have so much confidence in our team. It’s fun playing with those guys. We all like to play baseball and enjoy playing together.”
Finnigan’s curveball was working well for him, keeping Mountain View’s batters off balance and allowing the right-hander to work out of some jams. And Gig Harbor got plenty of production from its entire lineup, top to bottom, throughout the game, tallying nine hits against Mountain View.
“It’s incredible,” Glover said. “(The 3A South Sound Conference) league MVP Owen (Wild) is hitting sixth for us. On any other team, he’d be hitting 3. We have so much depth, with him in the six-hole and then all the way down to me and (Luke Deschenes) at the bottom.”
Gig Harbor won the Class 3A South Sound Conference title this season, and now has a bidistrict title to its name. Could a state title be next for the Tides? They’re certainly not short on confidence.
“We have so much momentum,” Finnigan said. “We want to be state champs, that’s our ending goal. We want to do it.”
Gig Harbor faces Bishop Blanchet at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 18 at Heidelberg Park in Tacoma in the opening round of the Class 3A state baseball tournament. The winner faces the winner of Ingraham and Shorewood at 4 p.m., also at Heidelberg.