Holding on to a massive 11-2 lead in the Class 3A state tournament baseball quarterfinal matchup against Ingraham at Heidelberg Park in Tacoma on Saturday evening, Gig Harbor High School sophomore third baseman coyly faked a toss to his pitcher, Luke Finnigan, kept the ball in his glove, and once the Ingraham runner stepped off third, applied the tag for the second out of the inning.
When even the hidden ball trick works like a charm, it’s probably a good indicator that things are going your way.
“We had a big lead, so I thought I’d try it,” Toglia said. “Why not?”
Everything went the Tides’ way on Saturday, as Gig Harbor emerged with a 15-2 win in five innings, thanks to the mercy rule going into effect. Gig Harbor piled up 11 combined runs in the second and third innings in a non-stop hit parade to advance to next weekend’s semifinal game in Pasco.
“People just get it started and then every time someone gets it started, we just keep on hitting,” said center fielder Cade Dessert, who hit a triple and a double in the win. “We just get the big innings when someone gets it started.”
Gig Harbor coach Pete Jansen’s squad has benefitted plenty lately from the big inning, which the longtime head coach believes is an indicator of the depth of this team’s lineup.
“If you look at the 3-4-5-6-7 batters, those are the guys that produce for us,” Jansen said.
Gig Harbor starting pitcher Max Sparrow was pulled after 1 1/3 innings and Luke Finnigan came into the game in relief, needing to work out of a jam in the second inning, with the bases loaded and one out. Finnigan was able to limit Ingraham to just one run in the inning, setting the tone for the rest of the outing and shutting out the Rams the rest of the way.
“I just came in focused, I knew that I had a four-run lead,” Finnigan said. “Just like last week, my curveball was working again. I didn’t really know much about that team. So I just focused on hitting my spots, throwing strikes and pitching to contact.”
Gig Harbor is firing on all cylinders, after winning the 3A South Sound Conference and last week’s West Central/Southwest bidistrict title.
“We feel like no team can beat us,” Toglia said. “We’re here to win a championship. It’s just going to take us playing normal Tides baseball, good defense backing up the pitcher and just keep hitting the ball well.”
Jansen said No. 1 pitcher Owen Wild will get the ball in the Gig Harbor’s semifinal game against Lake Washington next Saturday.
“When he’s on the mound, we have a great chance to win,” Jansen said. “So if we can get that first win, it’ll come down to the second game and we’ve won a lot of second games this year.”
GIG HARBOR 2, BISHOP BLANCHET 1
With the game tied at 1-1 between Gig Harbor and Bishop Blanchet in the opening round of the Class 3A state baseball tournament on Saturday afternoon at Heidelberg Park in Tacoma in the bottom of the seventh inning, Gig Harbor catcher Cage Hardy came up to bat with the winning run at third base and two outs.
He took a fastball and drove it deep into right center field, out of reach of the center fielder, to seal the 2-1 win for Gig Harbor in the Tides’ first game of the day. Hardy was mauled by his teammates at second base after delivering the walkoff win for the Tides.
“That was crazy — it felt like we had just won the state championship,” Hardy said. “We competed the entire game, kept in it. … We just kept the mentality that we had this. In the at bat, I was just thinking, ‘We’ve got this right now.’”
The game was a pitcher’s duel between Gig Harbor’s Owen Wild and Bishop Blanchet’s Jarek Woodward.
Wild was lights out for the Tides, allowing one run over seven innings, striking out 11 and only giving up two hits.
“My fastball was good today,” Wild said. “It was firm, where I wanted it.”
When Wild has been on the mound this season, Gig harbor has felt pretty good about its chances.
“His curveball was great today,” Hardy said. “The (velocity) kind of came down in the middle of the game, but he brought that back up at the end. No one could really hit him. He was dealing, like usual. We always know we can win the game when he’s pitching. He’s a big confidence booster for us.”
Bishop Blanchet got on the board first, when Woodward singled up the middle to score Luke Rican to give the Braves a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning.
Gig Harbor responded an inning later in the bottom of the fourth, when a wild single scored Sebastian Toglia.
Chances for the rest of the game were limited, but Hardy’s walkoff eventually gave the Tides the win.
“We just wanted to keep with the simple things,” Hardy said. “You can’t get too big and think, ‘Oh, I have to hit a homerun here.’ You have to just keep it simple.”
CAPITAL, OLYMPIA, FIFE ADVANCE TO SEMIS
On the top portion of the bracket in the 3A tournament, 3A SSC squad Capital made it through, beating Mercer Island, 7-1 in the opening game, and Mountain View, 6-2 in the quarterfinals. Pitcher Chase Cleveringa earned the win for Capital, surrendering one run on one hit over six innings, striking out three and walking none.
The Cougars will face off against O’Dea in the 3A semifinals, 10 a.m. on May 24 at GESA Stadium in Pasco.
In the Class 4A state regional round, Olympia was the local team that emerged, beating Skyline, 8-6 in the opening round and blanking Federal Way, 8-0 in the quarterfinals. Aiden Herrick earned the win on the mound for Olympia, allowing three hits and no runs over seven innings, striking out three and walking none. Olympia will play Issaquah in the semifinals at 4 p.m. on May 24 at GESA Stadium in Pasco.
In Class 2A action, Fife advanced to the state semifinals, beating Lynden, 7-2 in the opening round, and toppling Liberty, 5-4 in the quartefinals. Pitcher Gavin Knapp went seven innings, allowing four runs on eight hits, striking out four and walking none. Fife’s AJ Guerrero hit a 3-run homerun to left field in the third inning. Fife will face Sehome in the semifinal game at 4 p.m. on May 24 and County Stadium in Yakima.