Bonney Lake has never been alone at the top.
Ever since the program’s inception in 2006 under coach Mike Olson, the Panthers fielded the talent, but never tasted a league championship of their own. They shared a title nearly a decade ago, but never one to themselves.
“We were co-champs (in 2008), but we’ve never won one outright,” Olson said. “I told the guys this is the last year of the (3A) SPSL. This is our last shot. I told them to go get a championship.”
Drake Liske and Matt Gretler ended that quest Tuesday helping to lift Bonney Lake (16-4, 12-2 3A SPSL) to a 7-5 win over rival Sumner (14-5, 11-3) and securing the Panthers the 3A South Puget Sound League championship.
“They battled through all season long, never giving up on themselves. They grew up right before our eyes,” Olson said.
The Spartans finished in second-place with the loss and will be the No. 2 seed going into districts this weekend.
After Sumner erased Bonney Lake’s lead to even the game at 5-all, Liske had his biggest at-bat of the season.
With Riley Teed at as the go ahead runner at second, Liske (2-for-4, 2 RBIs) sat back on fastball from reliever Nathan Harrell, slicing a one-out single to right allowing Teed to score the go-ahead run.
“I fought off a few curves before he tried to get a high inside fastball on me,” Liske said, who advanced to second on the throw to the plate. “I sat back on it and tried to drive it the other way and read the play to the plate.”
Robbie Pogue smacked a high chopper through the middle of Sumner’s infield, driving in Liske to score the game’s final run.
The lead was all Gretler needed.
Gretler struck out six in 3 1/3 innings, effectively shutting the door on Sumner’s title hopes.
“I was just pounding the zone (with) straight fastballs, and I was looking away. It was just pounding that zone away and low,” Gretler said.
Gretler pitched a perfect seventh, striking out the side looking to secure Bonney Lake’s first league title in eight years.
“Those guys are good hitters, and I knew I needed to come after them,” Gretler said.
Bonney Lake plays at No. 6 seed Auburn (7-11, 5-8) in the opening round of the West Central District 3 tournament this Saturday at 1 p.m. Sumner travels to Kelso to host the No. 5 seed out of the Narrows League at 10 a.m.