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Spartans fall in first playoff game
A scrappy and young Bonney Lake team put a 11-1 end to the Spartans' sensational post-season run at Dream Field in Mount Vernon.
The Panthers jumped to a 7-0 advantage after two innings, helped in large degree by four Bainbridge errors in the State Regionals.
"We knew that they were going to put pressure on us defensively," said Spartans Head Coach David Smart.
"We didn't rise to the challenge. We're a better team than that," he said. "And it's pretty frustrating to not show up."
The two teams appeared evenly matched.
The Panthers advanced to state, their first trip in six years, with a 13-11 record. The Spartans came in at 13-10.
The Panthers fielded a young team, with just one senior on the roster.
The Spartans showed up with eight.
"Fortunately, it went our way today," said Bonney Lake Coach Mike Olson.
"We tried to attack, put the ball in play and attack with the bunt game and the run game a little bit," he said. "And the kids executed, for sure."
The early lead created even more momentum.
"Guys got comfortable at the plate and swings started coming together. They came out the more aggressive team and good things happened," Olson said.
The game was delayed for more than an hour as the ground crew tried to repair the field from the earlier soaking rains.
Bonney Lake made up for lost time quickly.
Lake outfielder Dylan Moran made it to first on a dropped catch, and a first-pitch bunt by Michael Gretler put a Panther on first and second.
Taiki Green was then hit in the head by the third pitch he faced, and the bases were loaded.
The runs then stated to come in, first inning, then second. A sacrifice fly, a Gretler dash home that beat the throw; a Chris Brown blast to right field that was chased down and then dropped by the Spartans for their fourth error and a 7-0 Bonney Lake lead.
The Panthers teased Bainbridge in the bottom of the second. Tino Peleti got walked, then Brett Green walked on a 3-2 pitch, and Zander Silverman walked after eyeballing a 3-2 outside pitch as the Panthers loaded the bases with no outs.
Bainbridge scored its first run as Peleti came home on a dropped pitch, but it was the Spartans' only run.
Kash Kolterman brought the game to an early end by sending a 1-1 pitch to right field for a triple and a 10-1 Bonney Lake advantage.
The Panthers tacked on one more, and the game was called on the 10-run mercy rule in the sixth.
Bainbridge fans cheered as the Spartans left the dugout for the last time this season.
Though the year exceeded many expectations — Bainbridge won the Metro League crown, advanced to state as one of Washington's top 16 3A teams, and finished with a 13-11 record — the first-round loss was a gut kick for the Spartans.
And don't forget that Metro title run: knocking down fellow state competitors West Seattle, 13-0; an 8-2 dusting of Seattle Prep; the 14-6 toppling of O'Dea.
The end, how it shook out at state, was nearly numbing.
"I felt like we came out ready to play. We were here, we've been prepared; we had a good week of practice. We were ready to go," Coach Smart said.
"It was a good run. I'm proud of the guys, proud of the work they put in. But it's disappointing," he said.
Still, some Spartans discovered something during a disappointing day at Dream Field.
"For the younger guys: This is what we're capable of. We're capable of being here. We should be here. And we expect to be here," Smart said.
"I think we're going to have a really good group for next year and be ready to go," he said, then paused. "But it's a little soon to be thinking about that."