North Thurston’s James Beatty had been baking in the sun on the baseball turf at Foss High School for a few hours. So he said the water dumped onto him by a sprinting teammate while he was being interviewed felt quite refreshing.
That it came after he pitched 6 2/3 innings to help keep the Rams’ season alive in a 4-3 victory over Peninsula in the 3A West Central/Southwest bidistrict tournament on Saturday made it even more so.
“It was huge — we get to keep playing,” Beatty said. “Tough one in the first game, but now we get to keep going and try to get to state.”
North Thurston (10-12) will play another loser-out game at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Heidelberg Park in Tacoma against the loser of Saturday night’s game between Enumclaw and Kennedy Catholic. It must win that one and one more to clinch a spot in the 3A state tournament.
The Rams were sent to the consolation bracket earlier in the day with a frustrating 3-2 loss to Auburn Mountainview.
One inning of untimely mistakes — that was all it took to erase North Thurston’s 2-0 lead against Auburn Mountainview in the bottom of the sixth inning in that loss. AMV did its damage on a passed ball, an error, five singles and a dropped third strike that allowed the go-ahead run to score.
“They were crushed, I’m irritated, everybody was off base,” North Thurston coach Pete Peppley said of the team afterward. “But we had just a real quick talk — ‘Hey, it’s over. What did you do and what can you do better this next time to move forward?’ We had another game to play and (Peninsula) just got thumped, so they’re probably not too happy, either.”
North Thurston jumped ahead with three runs in the bottom of the first inning against the Seahawks. Griffin Peppley singled home Nick Galvin in the bottom of the second inning after Galvin’s leadoff triple.
Then déjà vu.
North Thurston led 4-0 with two outs and nobody on in the top of the fourth inning when Josh Congdon’s error at shortstop allowed Peninsula’s Ryan Russell to reach base.
The Seahawks followed with three consecutive singles and a walk for two runs before a wild pitch scored a third.
“It’s our defense in one inning that has seriously cost us about six losses,” Pete Peppley said. “One inning tends to harpoon us. That’s kind of what we’ve been doing all year.”
But after Jakob Harn threw six innings and allowed two earned runs against AMV, Beatty tossed 6 2/3 innings against Peninsula.
Peninsula put the game-tying run on base in each of the final three innings. But Congdon twice helped turn double plays, including a 6-3 double play in the top of the sixth.
Peppley had considered taking Beatty out sooner.
“But the coaches reassured me everything was fine, let the defense work,” Peppley said. “One thing James has done really well is he’s been quick to refocus when something doesn’t go his way.”
Peppley only replaced Beatty when he hit the leadoff batter in the top of the seventh and walked another.
So he called on Congdon, who struck out the lone batter he faced in relief with a fastball on the outside corner to strand the game-tying run at second and earn the save.
“I knew I was going to get it done,” Congdon said. “There was no doubt in my mind. No doubt.
“We didn’t want to lose. We didn’t want to lose the other game, too, but we had had enough of that. So we stuck it to them.”
Prairie 4, Capital 3 (9 innings): Braden Heaps’ walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth ended the Cougars’ season in a loser-out game of the 3A West Central/Southwest bidistrict tournament.
On a 3-2 pitch, Heaps singled to left field to score Greg Bernash.
Capital lost its 2-1 lead when Prairie scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. But Mitchell Dooley’s sacrifice fly with one out in the top of the seventh scored Peyton Greene to tie it up before extra innings.
The loss came after Capital (12-9), which entered the tournament after placing second in the 3A Narrows League standings, lost 7-3 against Enumclaw earlier in the day.
Hazen 12, Shelton 2 (5 innings): Trevor Gregory hit a two-run home run in the top of the first inning to put the Highclimbers up a pair of runs.
Except Hazen then took advantage of a depleted pitching staff and five Shelton errors to go up 4-2 in the fourth inning. The Highlanders followed that with eight more runs in the fifth to end the Highclimbers’ season in the loser-out game of the 3A West Central/Southwest bidistrict tournament at Kelso High School.
“It was pretty rough trying to talk to the team about anything afterward,” Shelton coach Craig Gregory, Trevor Gregory’s father, said. “We knew we had one chance to try to get that first game and we threw four different guys. We’re not very deep in pitching. We just didn’t have a lot left in this one.”
Shelton (8-14) opened the tournament earlier Saturday with a 16-7 loss to Sumner. Brent Smotherman started that game, but left after 1 1/3 innings with an elbow injury, Craig Gregory said.
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677