Sports

One-run loss to Shorewood ends BHS run at state

BHS senior and primary pitcher Brett Green on the mound during the first game of the 2014 3A Region III Tournament.  - Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review
BHS senior and primary pitcher Brett Green on the mound during the first game of the 2014 3A Region III Tournament.
— image credit: Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review

One game.

That’s how much closer the Bainbridge High varsity baseball team got to earning a shot at the state championship this year.

One game closer than last year.

Three strikes, as the saying goes, and you’re out. BHS, however, didn’t have the opportunity for even a second or third strike during the tough single elimination playoff bracket.

The Spartans traveled to Centralia on Memorial Day weekend for a double-header performance in the 2014 3A Region III Tournament. They won the first game, against Timberline High, 2-1, and advanced to the second game, against Shorewood High, where they were defeated 1-0.

Bainbridge advanced to the playoffs having finished their regular season with a conference record of 12-2 and an overall record of 18-3. They were ranked in second place in the Metro Mountain Division, behind O’Dea (15-1 in conference).

Both of the BHS playoff games were characterized by sporadic offensive achievements.

In their game against Timberline, the Spartans were unable to get any runs on the board until the top of the fourth.

Finally, thanks to a solid hit by pitcher Brett Green, they put up two. It would be the only inning in which Bainbridge brought anyone home, but it would be enough to secure the win.

In the second game, Shorewood managed to squeeze out one run in the first. It was a slim lead they would hold for the rest of the game, as BHS proved unable to surmount an offensive answer.

Spartan Head Coach David Smart said that both game scores came down to single hits, a sign of the defensive capabilities of both teams.

“We didn’t swing the bats especially well all day,” Smart said Saturday. “I didn’t feel like there was anything different from game one to game two. We faced good pitchers in both games, we just weren’t able to get the hits. We were one big hit away — in both games — in the first one we got it, and in the second one we didn’t.”

Smart said that a good game for the team’s pitcher was a good game for everyone, and a run of good throws can easily shift the advantage of any game.

“Good pitching is just such a fine line,” he explained. “Our guys threw very well today. Their guys, both guys that we faced, both threw very well. It was a defensive battle and we were one hit away the whole game.”

Smart said it was a testament to the team’s defense that, despite an early lead in the second game, Shorewood was unable to capitalize on their position and pull further ahead.

“Duncan [McCombs] threw a great game today,” Smart said. “Brett [Green] threw a great one before him. We only gave up two runs in both games and that’s phenomenal — that’s really good pitching.”

“A good pitcher can shut you down and we got shut down in the second game, even though we manufactured our chances and had a couple of opportunities, the ball just didn’t bounce our way,” he added.

The final game of the season held a special significance for the team’s seniors, a tight-knit group of six players including some of the most renowned BHS sluggers, who are slated to move on in the fall.

Brett Green, Ben Kussie, Sam Tiffany, Jack Post, Dylan Vchulek and Tino Peleti are a particularly important group for Smart as well, as they are the first group of players to move through the entire four year program since his taking over.

“It’s a core group of our team,” Smart said of the departing seniors. “It’ll be tough, but we’ve got a good group of juniors right now. It seems like last year we made it to our first game and we were a step away. This year we took another step, although I think we were very close to getting a little bit further ahead.”

Set to fill the team leadership roles is a large group of skilled juniors, Smart said, including Carter Kraus, Brice Kozlosky, Duncan McCombs, Trent Schulte, Trent Loughnane, Jack O’Neill, Max Thomas and Gareth Grindeland.

Game faces slid away as the team gathered on the sideline following the second game of the day, some players looked angry and some, a bit teary. It was clearly a disappointing end to an impressive season.

“That’s a hell of a day of baseball,” Smart said to the gathered team. “Our at-bats were competitive, and when we put it in play they’re bound to throw it around a little. There’s not a whole lot we can say at this point, it’s a tough way to go down. I’m proud of you guys and the way you went about it.”

Smart thanked the senior players, saying that they deserved much of the credit for the program’s renewed success in the past few years.

“This was a great year for the seniors,” he said. “[They’ve] done a hell of a job to get this program on the right track and moving forward.”

The quality of opponent, Smart explained, makes all the difference in any sport. Shut-out wins, like the 29-0 Spartan victory over Rainier Beach earlier this season, do not make athletes any better, he said.

“It’s fun to play against the best,” he said. “We can go out there and beat Rainier Beach all day, I don’t care about that. Coming here and playing good teams, like Timberline, that’s really good baseball.”

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