Spartan hardballers slide into postseason

Sam Donnally makes it to third base . Simon Pollack would single him home, on the way to an 11-2 win over Nathan Hale on Friday. - ROGERICK ANAS/Staff Photo
Sam Donnally makes it to third base . Simon Pollack would single him home, on the way to an 11-2 win over Nathan Hale on Friday.
— image credit: ROGERICK ANAS/Staff Photo

With both the Nathan Hale and Bainbridge baseball teams needing to win Friday’s game to advance to post-season play, there was no lack of excitement from either dugout. The Raiders, who had been held to one hit in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Spartans, became especially raucous after they raked starter Ross McKinstry following a leadoff pop fly.

A double into the left-center field gap. Another double when a long drive to left bounced over the fence. A hard ground single up the middle. Three hits, two in, one on.

No sweat.

McKinstry struck out the No. 5 hitter and although the next batter singled, Scott Leslie fielded a hot grounder and stepped on third for the final out.

The Spartans answered the Hale deuce in the home half of the inning. Simon Pollack was hit with a pitch and Kevin Hebner doubled. Pat Crowthers plated Pollack with a sacrifice fly and Hebner came home on McKinstry’s bloop single.

McKinstry breezed through a 1-2-3 second, and when the first two Spartans went down in the bottom half it appeared as if Bainbridge could be in for yet another nail-biter.

Not so.

Sam Donnelly lined a single to center, stole second and advanced to third in a wild pitch. Pollack singled him home. Hebner singled. Crowthers drove in both runners with a double to right center, then stole third and scored on a wild pitch. McKinstry walked. Leslie homered over the center field fence to complete a six-run inning.

With McKinstry scattering five hits the rest of the way and his teammates playing errorless defense after nine miscues in the previous two games, the Spartans took an 11-2 win – Bill Kirkwood’s sixth-inning solo home run put an exclamation point on the game – in the seniors’ final home appearance. The win gave Bainbridge (12-6 Metro, 14-6 overall) second place in the Sound division and set up a game tomorrow against a yet-to-be determined opponent in the first round of the Metro League playoffs.

Bainbridge JV 3-8, Seattle Prep JV 2-5 – “It was a day for pitchers to help themselves,” said coach Mike Benz as his team finished the season 13-2 in league play (13-3 overall) to claim what he termed the “mythical Metro JV championship.”

Nick Schuetz drove in the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the seventh of the opener to give himself the victory. Troy Apro’s fourth-inning homer was the Spartans’ only run to that point as the Panthers held a 2-1 lead. But Ryan Magraw led off with a single, Hunter Merkle walked and Matt Colley’s sacrifice bunt set up Schuetz’ clutch hit – a reward for a complete game two-hitter with seven strikeouts.

Kevin Roach’s three-run homer in the sixth inning of the nightcap extended a 5-4 lead and gave him the save. The team had 11 hits, with Roach and Nathan Gottlieb both having two.

“The key to this team was defense,” Benz said. “In 16 games, we had six errors. That’s pretty incredible. Our middle infielders – Adam Knappe, Roach and Gottlieb – had exactly zero errors and turned seven double plays.

“I’ve never had a team that played defense that well. It’s a tribute to the coaches they’ve had in the past.”

Bainbridge JV 15, Nathan Hale JV 0 – “I knew we’d kill those guys after what happened to us on Wednesday,” Benz said after Friday’s game as his team atoned for the 10-5 loss to the Raiders two days earlier.

Gottlieb struck out eight and gave up one hit in four innings. Roach led a 19-hit attack with four safeties while Colley added three.

Shelton C 4-13, Bainbridge C 3-5 – The Spartans finished the 2002 season with an 8-9 record after Saturday’s doubleheader at Shelton. The team had only four hits and committed four errors in the first game as pitchers Chris Randish and Jeremy Bjornson allowed just five hits. Shelton pounded out 14 hits in the nightcap, while the Spartans had eight of their own but committed six errors.

Bainbridge C 5, Peninsula C 4 – Pitchers Blake Jensen and David Lantz combined for Thursday’s home win.

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