It may not be quite the season they were hoping for, but the Bainbridge High School baseball team is treating every game like a chance to play for a state title is on the line.
The Spartans are loaded with talent — they can pitch, hit and field — and they would have been contenders for a deep run in the 3A state tournament, and perhaps even a championship, if not for COVID-19.
Without a postseason this year due to the coronavirus, their goal is to simply finish atop the Olympic League for the first time since 1999, when Bainbridge was still a member of that league. Again, due to COVID, they are playing in that league, rather than the Metro.
However, unlike 2020, at least they are playing ball.
“A lot of these guys felt the pain of getting their season canceled last year,” coach Geoff Brown said. “Last year, we also had another team that I would say was a potential state contender. Same thing this year. But what we talk about at practice, what we talk about in the game is, ‘Hey, let’s go out and play like we’re gonna play for a state championship and just keep that energy.’”
They certainly have the players to do it. The roster runs deep with four Division I level players in JR Ritchie (UCLA), Kai Francis and Nathan DeSchryver (both Gonzaga) and Jasiah George (Washington). All four are pitchers, along with a fifth arm, Angel Maldonado, who is committed to Edmonds Community College.
“The goal is to prepare everybody for next year,” Brown said. “For my seniors, especially the guys that are potential draft guys, get them their work and put them in the most successful position possible to showcase what they can do.
Rounding out the lineup are players such as leadoff man and outfielder Owen McWilliam, catcher Breckin Hadley, shortstop Gabriel Todd, third baseman Luke Lavigne and outfielder Austin Coupland. The latter three recently finished their varsity football season, giving the Spartans several multi-sport athletes.
“We’ve got a lot of good athletes on the field,” Brown said. “I think the best term for it is well-balanced.”
Bainbridge is off to a good start in the Olympic League, capturing its first win of the year Tuesday 20-0 over Kingston. Ritchie, DeSchryver and Maldonado combined to throw a five-inning no-hitter, striking out 11 of the 16 batters they faced.
The Spartans were just as dominant at the plate. McWilliam hit a pair of doubles and had two RBI; DeSchryver tripled, singled and drove in three runs; George drove in a pair of runs with a double; and Ritchie went 2-2 with a walk and a two-run double. Every player in the starting nine scored at least once, and every hitter scored in the 14-run second inning.
“We do a lot of things well,” Brown said. “We’ve got some speed, we run the bases really well. We’re just a big line-drive contact hitting team that constantly puts the ball in play.”
Bainbridge had another game scheduled for Thursday against Bremerton before getting into their back-to-back divisional matchups the following week, beginning March 29 at Port Angeles. And although there are no playoffs in the cards this year, Brown has his eye on the future as well as the present.
“We want to have some momentum going into next year,” Brown said. “I would hope we’re back to normal next year to where we have playoffs. The upside of today is we were able to get some young guys into the game to get some varsity experience.”