Sports

Bainbridge crush Crusaders 14-9 in varsity baseball

Ben Kussie at bat during the second of two Spartan victories over the Crusaders last week.  - Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review
Ben Kussie at bat during the second of two Spartan victories over the Crusaders last week.
— image credit: Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review

It seemed like a definite Spartan ball game Friday, April 11, against the visiting Eastside Catholic Crusaders.

At first.

Leading 12-1 in the fourth inning, Bainbridge seemed to have things locked up pretty tight, and so they decided to mix things up on the mound.

The slight Spartan shift may have been what the Crusaders needed, or maybe it was just a lucky streak at the plate. Whatever the reason, with Bainbridge’s own Tino Peleti debuting on the mound, the visitors managed a flurry of scoring activity and narrowed the gap to 12-9 by the end of the fifth.

It was an uneasy moment for BHS fans, to be sure, but not enough to stave off the tide of defeat that would soon swamp Eastside Catholic.

In their final at bat, the Spartans quickly took things back in hand and ended the game 14-9.

Offensive standouts from the Bainbridge lineup included Brett Green and Max Thomas.

Green finished the game with two at bats, two hits, three runs and one RBI.

Thomas managed two at bats, two hits, two runs and two RBIs.

The victory on Friday marked the third win for the Spartans in the week, including a crushing shutout over Rainier Beach on Monday. Spartan Head Coach David Smart said that, despite some areas in need of improvement, the team was playing very well and morale was high.

“Winning’s fun,” he said of Friday.

“Winning’s good. We definitely got things we can work on from this game, but it’s been a good week. Three games, three wins. [We] couldn’t have done better than that,” Smart said.

Friday was the second victory for the Spartans over Eastside in one week, having bested them 6-1 on the road just a day before.

“Wednesday, just like today, we jumped out to an early lead, which is always an advantage,” Smart said. “Both days, I thought our pitching was good. Today [Friday], our defense let us down a little bit [and] we gave up a big inning and let them back into it, but I was proud of how the guys bounced right back and got a couple more runs to sustain that momentum and get us back on top and get our spirits back up.”

Discussing the benefits of an early points advantage, Smart said it’s an especially critical boost for a pitcher.

“It’s huge, especially from a pitching perspective, when you can pitch from a lead and really challenge hitters,” he said. “It’s a game based on failure, so 70 percent of the time we get hitters and they get out. If we can throw pitches and make them put the ball in play, it not only keeps them active and aggressive, but it also keeps your defense in the game. If you’re walking guys over and over again it just delays the game and slows it down.”

Smart said that, even for a great batter, a 70 percent failure rate is common at the plate.

“The best guys strike out 60 or 70 percent of the time if you’re batting .300,” he explained. “It’s one of those things where you have to be able to move beyond those failures.”

As for the apparent tradeoff in Friday’s game, losing ground on the board to mix up the pitching rotation, Smart said he never viewed it as a trade and the ground the Crusades managed to gain back was unexpected.

“I never expected us to lose any ground,” he said. “Tino came in and he threw strikes. He got the ball in play, but I think we had two or three errors behind him, and a couple of fluke hits, and it just kind of snowballed. I was actually pleased with the way he threw and I think he’s going to throw again next week for us.

“I don’t have any issues with how he threw there, or putting a new guy in,” Smart added. “We’ve got three games in three days next week so everybody’s going to be on call to throw.”

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