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BASEBALL | Pinkerton’s grand slam propels Wolves to league tourney title
LACEY — Redundancy has a negative connotation to some.
Others, such as South Kitsap’s baseball program, welcome monotony.
Behind a fourth-inning grand slam by senior Tyler Pinkerton, South defeated Gig Harbor for a third time this season, 4-1, to capture the Class 4A Narrows League Tournament championship for a second consecutive season Friday at Lacey’s Regional Athletic Complex.
Coach Marcus Logue said afterward that he had no doubt that his team could motivate itself for the tournament after already defeating every 4A Narrows team twice this year. The Wolves finished 14-0 in league play — their first perfect record in Narrows play since 2000.
“I think these kids are really intelligent,” Logue said. “A lot of this is their hard work and focus. They’re motivated and they love this game.”
South (17-4), which earned the league’s No. 1 seed out of 4A Narrows, will open the West Central/Southwest bi-district tournament against the 4A South Puget Sound League’s No. 3 seed at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Bellarmine Prep.
The Wolves put themselves in that position when Pinkerton broke a scoreless tie with one out in the third inning by hitting a first-pitch fastball from right-handed starter Drew Gallinger over the fence in left field.
It was a welcomed development for Logue, who felt his team was not aggressive enough during their 4-0 nonleague win Tuesday at Olympic to finish the regular season.
“It was perfect,” he said. “When you get a fastball go for it. Get the bat off the shoulder.”
Seniors Conner Sharp and Logan Knowles opened the inning with singles — the latter coming on a bunt. Junior Mac McCarty then moved the runners over with a sacrifice bunt before senior right fielder Tyler Ludlow was intentionally walked.
Pinkerton said he was not thinking about Ludlow being walked to get to him.
“I was just excited for my next at-bat,” he said.
Logue had a different perspective.
“They walked Luds and I know that’s kind of a slap in the face for Pink,” he said.
Logue said the grand slam “took the pressure off” his team in an unfamiliar environment. In addition to the customary player introductions that occur during the postseason, the RAC’s infield is turf. While adjusting to faster moving grounders, junior shortstop Cooper Canton committed two errors during the first inning. Those issues later subsided as Canton started a double play in the fifth inning.
“Cooper did a great job at short,” Logue said. “He had the first couple [errors] in the first inning … but it’s great that happened early in the game because I think a big thing with these guys — and I think they talk about it a lot — is being able to deal with adversity.”
The only adversity South faced occurred in the sixth inning when Michael Toglia hit a one-out triple for the Tides (13-7) to right-center field. During the ensuing at-bat, Joe Burghardt doubled to right field to score Toglia. That ended a streak of 36 scoreless innings since the Wolves’ 8-4 win April 24 at Olympia. South’s pitchers entered the game with three consecutive shutouts and seven for the season.
Knowles attributes that to a mature approach, which included rain that resulted in a 5-minute delay at one point.
“I actually kind of like pitching in the rain,” he said. “Whatever issues you face you just have to play through them.”
Logue said that mentality is one reason why he felt his team would go undefeated in league play as soon as they lost last year’s state championship, 8-5, against Skyview in Pasco.
“I said last year to [assistant coach Nick] Kenyon that this group’s smart enough and mature enough that we should go undefeated in league,” he said. “They’re able to handle it that way.”
Even when it means proving — once again — that his team is the best in 4A Narrows.
“I like the pressure,” said Logue, referring to the league tournament. “It shows that you’re the number one team.”
Narrows League Tournament
South Kitsap 4, Gig Harbor 1
Gig Harbor 000 001 0 - 1 6 1
South Kitsap 000 400 x - 4 7 2
Drew Gallinger and Mark Sluys. Logan Knowles and Tyler Pinkerton.
Leading hitter-Tyler Pinkerton (SK) 1-2 BB HR 4 RBI.