The score of the game didn’t seem to matter much at the end of South Kitsap’s 5-4 win over Gig Harbor at Cheney Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Following the last pitch, some players from both teams handed their special-edition camo jerseys to the families of local fallen soldiers. It capped off a special “Tribute to the Troops” at the ballpark.
“Bigger than baseball,” South Kitsap coach Marcus Logue said. “That’s the one way to describe today.”
Each player’s jersey had the name and rank of a U.S. soldier who had given his or her life in combat. For Gig Harbor starter Michael Toglia, a UCLA signee, it put his life into perspective, he said.
“It’s an incredible honor,” Toglia said. “When they were doing the announcements, I got chills when they were doing the national anthem. Just to know these men fought for us, fought for the opportunities that we have as a team, it’s incredible. They were no older than me. I did my research on (the soldier whose name was on Toglia’s jersey).He was 19 when his life was lost in Vietnam. That’s next year for me.”
Leading up to the game, Logue made sure his players understood the magnitude of the sacrifices the soldiers made.
“After practice the other night, we ran to the veterans’ cemetery,” Logue said. “I had the boys walk around and just think about all the people that have served our country and what they do, the sacrifices they’ve made. … We have to carry that through society. Our guys took it to heart.”
South Kitsap (8-4, 4-2 Narrows 4A) was able to tag Toglia for three runs, one each in the second, third and fourth innings. First baseman Austin Bayne went 3 for 3 with two doubles.
“Austin Bayne, I’ve got to tip my cap to him. He had a hell of game,” Toglia said.
The Wolves scored the final two runs in the bottom of the sixth, with Dusty Garcia bringing Alex Garcia in on a sacrifice fly, and Bayne scoring on an error.
Toglia flexed his muscle for Gig Harbor (10-4, 7-1 Narrows 4A) in the top of the seventh, hitting a solo homer over the right-center field fence.
“Gig Harbor, they’re a great team,” Logue said. “Our guys battled and competed. We needed this game to turn our season around. I’m just really proud of our guys. I’m more proud of both the communities coming out here today, supporting our kids (and), more importantly, our armed forces.”