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BASEBALL | Wolves secure berth to regionals
TACOMA — South Kitsap pitcher Mac McCarty is becoming the exception to the theory that there are no certainties in sports.
The Wolves’ junior right-hander won for the ninth time in as many starts with a 6-0 victory Tuesday against Tahoma in the Class 4A West Central/Southwest bi-district tournament at Bellarmine Prep.
South (18-4), which next plays at 10 a.m. Saturday against Battle Ground at Kent Memorial, earned an automatic berth to regionals, which begin May 24.
McCarty, who has allowed one earned run this season, again was dominant. He threw 58 of 87 pitches for strikes en route to a complete game three-hitter. McCarty struck out eight batters.
And he did it in different fashion than usual.
“They’re a little bit better competition than we’ve seen, so I had to change it up a lot more,” McCarty said. “Not so many fastballs.”
He still threw his pitches from a variety of arm angles in an effort to confound hitters. But Logue felt McCarty needed to do even more. Through scouting the Bears, Logue noticed the top five batters in the lineup were first-pitch fastball hitters.
“We’re going to throw them the slider and then we’re going to speed it up to keep them off balanced,” he said.
The Wolves needed that early as Tahoma right-hander Jake Lambro had little difficulty stymieing South. That changed during the fourth inning, though. With one out, four consecutive Wolves singled off Lambro. The final hit — a flare to shallow right field by junior second baseman Hudson Kimple — produced two runs.
It was just the start.
Senior Logan Knowles led off the fourth inning with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by McCarty. Designated hitter Tyler Ludlow then walked and catcher Tyler Pinkerton followed with a single to load the bases. Knowles scored during the ensuing at-bat on a sacrifice fly to center field by senior Tanner Paulson.
It appeared South would have to settle for a 3-0 lead when sophomore third baseman Hunter Riley hit a routine grounder to shortstop. But Daniel Nist’s throw to first base was errant, which allowed Ludlow to score. That also enabled Kimple and classmate Cooper Canton to follow with consecutive RBI singles to give the Wolves their final runs. The latter came off left-handed reliever Brandon Fokkema.
“It seemed like he ran out of gas and we finally got a hold of it,” said McCarty, referring to Lambro.
Logue, noting a diving stop by Nist during the second inning, felt his team was unlucky early.
“We were hitting the ball and they were making great plays,” he said. “We knew as a team that we could hit that guy — it was going to come and we just had to be patient and resilient.”
When that happened it was more than enough support for McCarty, who retired the final 13 batters of the contest. He has not allowed an earned run since April 7 against Yelm.
Despite McCarty’s success, Logue said he noticed his players were anxious during school Tuesday.
“There was a little bit of nerves in the halls at school,” he said. “I could see a little bit. I stopped them in the locker room and said, ‘It’s a Tuesday of baseball. If you treat it that way you’re going to be happy with the result.’ Like I’ve said all season it’s a really mature group.”
Even with several players returning from last season’s team that finished second in the 4A state tournament, Logue said he was not surprised that some were nervous before Tuesday’s game.
“I saw it coming,” said Logue, whose team has won seven consecutive games. “They know what we’re playing for. They knew [this game] was the big one. You’ve got to get to Saturday. It’s crucial as far as the seeds go. Immature teams probably don’t get through [this game] and then they make the road through a lot tougher.”
West Central/Southwest bi-district tournament
At Bellarmine Prep
South Kitsap 6, Tahoma 0
Tahoma 000 000 0 - 0 3 2
South Kitsap 000 240 x - 6 11 0
Jake Lambro, Brandon Fokkema (5), Derek Browne (6) and Matthew Thompson. Mac McCarty and Tyler Pinkerton.
Leading hitters-Logan Knowles (SK) 2-4 run, Hudson Kimple (SK) 2-3 3 RBI, Tyler Pinkerton (SK) 2-4 2 runs.