Community Sports

Two baseball games weren’t quite enough for Gig Harbor, Peninsula

Posted on May 3rd, 2024 By:

The Peninsula (12-8, 8-6 South Sound Conference) and Gig Harbor (12-10, 8-6) baseball teams split two games this week, setting up a one-game playoff between the rivals on Friday afternoon to determine second place in the South Sound Conference.

Peninsula won the first game, 4-0, on April 30. Gig Harbor rallied to win 5-3 the next day. The two play again at 3 p.m. Friday, May 3, at Sehmel Homestead Park. Both teams advance to the postseason. Friday’s game determines which gets the No. 2 seed and which the No. 3 seed.

Game 1: Peninsula 4, Gig Harbor 0

Peninsula pitcher John Browand went the distance in the first game on Tuesday, allowing seven hits with five strikeouts in the shutout win. He walked just one batter in seven innings, keeping the Tides off the base paths and benefiting from a defense that turned in several defensive gems to hold the Tides scoreless.

Gig Harbor’s Riley Westfall started strong before an apparent muscle cramp put him in obvious pain. He remained in the game, but had control issues after that. Peninsula’s Isaac Schultz-Tait got to him with a two-run single in the second inning.

Peninsula coach Matt Thomas talks strategy with his team during a game against Gig Harbor. Photo by Bryce Carithers

Josh Dunham replaced Westfall to begin the third inning and walked six batters in two innings. The Seahawks made it difficult by fouling off pitches and remaining selective at the plate.

The Seahawks only had three hits, but walked 10 times. Meanwhile, the Peninsula defense did not commit an error and got a gutsy performance from catcher Jonathan Vergara-Dykes, who kept everything in front of him and allowed only one stolen base.

Schultz-Tait reached base in three of four plate appearances with an RBI, two walks and a stolen base. Michael Tellez and Kaleb Copeland were the other Seahawks with hits. The Tides’ J.T. Grande went 2-3, Cutter Peterson went 2-3, and Daniel Porras, Cole Krilich, and Cooper McCutcheon each had a hit.

Game 2: Gig Harbor 5, Peninsula 3

Gig Harbor turned the tide in a dramatic, come-from-behind 5-3 win on Wednesday, May 1. The Tides clinched a tie for second place in the league and forced Friday’s playoff game.

Peninsula jumped out to a 3-0 lead behind pitcher Tristan Miller, who allowed just two hits through five innings. A dropped fly ball helped the Seahawks score a couple of those runs, but may have also been the turning point.

After the Seahawks scored twice in their half of the fourth inning, Westfall gathered his teammate together in front of the Gig Harbor dugout and yelled at them to “pick it up and don’t quit.” The challenge shocked the Tides like a cardiac patient who had just been paddled. The chatter level in the dugout went to 10 and the Tides were a different team from that point on.

“I was getting ready to lead off that inning before Riley’s pep talk,” Grande said. “It lit a fire under us and completely carried our team’s momentum through the rest of the game. We loved every bit of it.”

Also inspiring the Tides were a couple outstanding plays by right fielder Cole Krilich. He made an out-of-nowwhere diving catch of a ball in right-center field and then a couple of pitches later sprinted the other way to make a shoestring catch down the right field line to end a Seahawk threat.

GH offense gets going

The Tides got their offense going in the sixth inning, when Hunter Payne reached on an error and advanced to second on a passed ball. Then McCutcheon drew a walk and another Peninsula error loaded the bases with nobody out.

Senior third baseman Ryland Heckman, who went 2-3 on the day, slapped a single to right field to knock in a run. Then Porras, who leads the Tides with 20 RBI, drove in a run and Grande hit a shot to third base. The throw to the plate for the force was bobbled and the score was 3-3.

Later, Grande scored on a passed ball and was so excited as he entered the dugout that he knocked a teammate flat on his back with a chest bump.

Daniel Porras leads Gig Harbor with 20 RBI. File photo by Bryce Carithers

“Can’t say I have done that before until today,” Grande said. “Shout out to my guy (Peterson) for taking it like a champ and embracing the energy.”

The Tides scored all five runs in the sixth inning. It stood up thanks to the pitching of sophomore Quentin Bockhorn, who looked as smooth as silk on the mound. Bockhorn struck out five batters in the sixth and seventh innings to secure the win. He threw 3 1/3 innings for the Tides, allowing only two hits without a walk.

“It feels good beating Peninsula,” Bockhorn said. “They beat our seniors on senior night last game and it feels good getting them on their senior night.”