BASEBALL | South Kitsap returns to state semifinals

South Kitsap sophomore Hunter Riley and his teammates clinched a spot in the Class 4A state semifinals with a 5-2 win against Lake Stevens and then a 2-1 victory versus Kentridge during Saturday’s regionals at Kent Memorial. - Jeff Rhodes Photo
South Kitsap sophomore Hunter Riley and his teammates clinched a spot in the Class 4A state semifinals with a 5-2 win against Lake Stevens and then a 2-1 victory versus Kentridge during Saturday’s regionals at Kent Memorial.
— image credit: Jeff Rhodes Photo

KENT — He is used to stifling opposing hitters by throwing a variety of pitches from different arm angles.

But this time South Kitsap junior Mac McCarty found a different way to propel his team to the Class 4A state semifinals for a second consecutive year.

McCarty hit a 1-0 fastball over the left-center field fence during the fifth inning of Saturday’s winner-to-state, loser-out 4A West Central/Southwest Bi-District Tournament at Kent Memorial to produce all of the Wolves’ runs during their 2-1 win against Kentridge.

South (21-5) advanced to play at 10 a.m. Friday against Wenatchee at Gesa Stadium in Pasco.

“That was a great moment in my life,” McCarty said of his home run off right-handed starter Danny Torlai. “I had been timing him pretty well through game and it was funny walking out of the dugout the team was like, ‘Just go hit a bomb.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, sure.’ ”

“I felt it coming off the bat.”

McCarty was slated to start at pitcher against the Chargers (19-9), but the right-hander threw in relief during the Wolves’ 5-2 win Saturday morning against Lake Stevens in a loser-out game.

That meant junior Cooper Canton, who said he expected to throw no more than a couple of innings in relief, was pushed into a starting role. The challenge did not seem to faze Canton. He allowed one run during the third inning when Joe Wainhouse — a University of Mississippi signee — hit a one-out double to right field to score shortstop Andrew Barrera, who led off the inning with a single.

Canton, who threw 55 of 82 pitches for strikes, only allowed one hit after the third inning. South coach Marcus Logue had an easy explanation for that.

“Just good command,” he said. “He understood what it was going to take to beat them. They’re the type of team that if you leave anything almost thigh up, they’re going to be able to take advantage of that. You’ve got to keep the ball down … and he did that.”

Canton acknowledged he “was a little nervous” before the game, but became more comfortable as the game progressed.

“I was trying to get a good tempo going,” he said. “When I’m going good, I like to speed it up a little bit.”

Kentridge mounted a final threat in the seventh inning when catcher Shane Stober led off the inning with a double down the third-base line. But McCarty then fielded a pair of hard-hit balls off the bats of Nick Hopson and Taylor Poffenroth. Stober was held at second base while McCarty fielded both outs.

“I apologized to Mr. Canton, who probably has a few gray hairs,” McCarty said, laughing. “Cooper pitched amazing. He looked so good.”

If either ball eluded McCarty, the Chargers might have won or sent the game into extra innings.

“When it came down to it we hit the ball hard twice there in the seventh inning,” Kentridge coach John Flanigan said. “Guys made plays. What are you going to do?”

The Wolves had some problem solving of their own. With a 2-0 deficit and runners on first and second base in the third inning against Lake Stevens, Logue replaced starter Logan Knowles with McCarty, who struck out consecutive batters to end the inning. But because McCarty threw 4 2/3 innings — and 60 pitches — he was unavailable to pitch in the nightcap.

When asked if there were any concerns about that, McCarty responded with the team’s theme: “Taking Care of Business.” That means finding solutions to problems that arise.

And Canton’s performance gave Logue another option to consider when he sorts out his pitching staff for Pasco. He said afterward that he has not decided who will start Friday.

“We’re deep, I guess you would say,” Logue said. “We’ll see how this week goes opponent-wise and go from there.”

This marked the final doubleheader of the season for South. Friday’s game is a loser-out contest with the Wolves playing for their fourth state championship at 4 p.m. Saturday if they win. Logue feels his team showed their resiliency at regionals.

“It’s a long day,” he said. “It’s tough. They were rewarded for their hard work and focus.”

South, which was the 4A state runner-up last year, has an opportunity for its best placements in consecutive seasons. The Wolves previous top two successive seasons occurred when they won their first state championship in 1983 and then placed third the following year.

“I think it says a lot,” Canton said. “I think it shows that we have some hardworking kids in South Kitsap and we have a great coach.”

Class 4A Regionals

At Kent Memorial

South Kitsap 2, Kentridge 1

South Kitsap   000      020      0          -           2          7          3

Kentridge        001      000      0          -           1          3          1

Cooper Canton and Tyler Pinkerton. Danny Torlai, Ryan Schroeder (7) and Shane Stober.

W-Canton. L-Torlai.

Leading hitters-Mac McCarty (SK) 2-4 HR run 2 RBI, Joe Wainhouse (K) 1-2 BB 2B RBI.

South Kitsap 5, Lake Stevens 2

Lake Stevens   101      000      0          -           2          6          0

South Kitsap   000      041      x          -           5          6          3

Branden Keliher, Nick Hoskins (5), Skyler Swords (5) and Matt Del Fante. Logan Knowles, Mac McCarty (3) and Tyler Pinkerton.

W-McCarty. L-Keliher.

Leading hitters-Corey Bullens (LS) 2-4 2B SB run, Tyler Ludlow (SK) 2-2 HBP BB run, Hunter Riley (SK) 1-2 BB 2B 2 RBI.

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