With three balls and two strikes in the bottom of the seventh inning, Michael Spellacy was looking for a pitch to hit that would drive in the game-winning run with the bases loaded.
He didn’t get one.
But it turns out a bases-loaded walk still feels pretty good.
Spellacy drove in three runs, including that walk-off RBI walk, and earned the win on the mound pitching in relief as the Gonzaga University commit lifted the Puyallup High School baseball team to a 4-3 win over Federal Way for the 4A West Central District title on Saturday at Kent Memorial Park.
It’s the first district title for Puyallup (20-4) since winning the 4A state championship during its 28-0 season two years ago.
“I was ready to drive a ball,” said Spellacy, who said he transferred to Puyallup from Battle Ground just months before the start of the school year. “He didn’t bring me one, but we’ll take the walk, we’ll take the win and now it’s on to the next one.”
The next one will be against Cascade of Everett in the first round of the 4A state tournament at 1 p.m. this coming Saturday at Propstra Stadium in Vancouver, Washington.
Puyallup coach Marc Wiese wasn’t so thrilled about the travel.
“Things don’t always make sense,” he said.
Federal Way, as the district’s No. 2 seed, will play Woodinville a little closer to home — 10 a.m. Saturday at Heidelberg Park in Tacoma.
Wiese was asked if he considered possibly not trying to win the district title to avoid the travel.
“I think all four coaches (from Puyallup, Federal Way, Gig Harbor and Kentwood) that were here today had that thought process a little bit,” Wiese said. “We weren’t going to expose too many things that we do. We just wanted to play the game and the way the cards fell, the cards fell.”
Puyallup struck first in the third inning.
Ryan Teague scored Riley Pletcher on a sacrifice fly to right field to put the Vikings up 1-0.
Ryan Peterson followed with a single to left field, which got by Federal Way left fielder Christian Jones, allowing Collin Wolf to reach third and Peterson second. Spellacy plated them with a single to left field.
Shortly after, Jones atoned. He led off the following inning with a line shot over the wall in center field. It was a 1-0 pitch he crushed — the University of Washington signee’s sixth homer of the season.
“I was looking for fastball and I saw it and put a swing on it,” said Jones, who was 1 for 2 combined in two games Saturday with the home run, a groundout, five walks and a hit by pitch. “I got a hold of it. It was on such a line, I wasn’t sure it got out. But good thing it did because I think that gave us some momentum.”
Jones scored in the sixth inning when Puyallup walked him for the third time and Eddie Peraza tripled off the wall in left field. Federal Way tied the game a batter later on Dawson Bakker’s RBI single.
Earlier in the day, Federal Way (20-4) beat Gig Harbor in the district semifinals. Federal Way went 13-10 last year, and won a combined 15 games in the two years prior to that.
Now it enters the 4A state tournament for the first time since 2011.
“Today was a learning experience,” Jones said. “We came in, competed and that’s all we ask for. Every game go out and compete.”
Kentwood 3, Gig Harbor 1: Jordan Jones faced six batters, striking out the last five, and Shane McGuire doubled in a run for Kentwood.
Kentwood (21-4) next plays the No. 2 seed from the District 5/8 tournament at noon this coming Saturday at Heritage Park in Puyallup.
Gig Harbor (16-7) also heads to Heritage Park next. It will play Mount Si at 9 a.m. this coming Saturday.
“It wasn’t the end of the world if we would have lost, but you always want to compete,” Kentwood coach Mark Zender said. “If you win, it’s confidence for the kids.”
Jones, a University of Washington signee, started the game in what amounted to a bullpen session, allowing no hits in two innings before Dyson Johnson continued to shut the Tides down from there.
Zender said he recommended Jones throw a few innings Saturday despite starting in a win over Timberline. He has not lost a start either of the past two years for the Conquerors, though he was not the pitcher of record.
“I needed to get some work in,” Jones said. “I wanted to get after it with live hitters. I thought that was going to be best to help me and help the team out.”
Kentwood scored runs in each of the first two innings, including McGuire’s RBI double. Ben Wadowski, a Saint Martin’s signee, plated the Conks’ third run on a two-out, bases-loaded single in the fourth.
Emerald Ridge 1, Timberline 0: Andrew Curran shut out the Blazers to lift the Jaguars to the district’s fifth seed to the 4A state tournament.
Curran allowed three hits and struck out three. Emerald Ridge (17-6) broke the scoreless tie on Dustin Resnik Jr.’s RBI single to center in the fifth inning, scoring Wesley Robinson.
The Jaguars next play Snohomish in the first round of state at 1 p.m. Saturday at Heidelberg Park in Tacoma.
Timberline plays the No. 1 seed from District 4 at 10 a.m. Saturday at Propstra Stadium in Vancouver. It avoided elimination with a 3-0 win over Jefferson.
Emerald Ridge beat Tahoma, 8-6, to clinch a state berth.
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677