The Peninsula baseball team opened the district playoffs with an impressive 11-0 win over Auburn Mountainview on Saturday, May 7, at a blustery Sehmel Park.
The umpires invoked the 10-rule run rule on Auburn Mountainview in a game in which Seahawks senior pitcher Hunter Bennett looked sharp. The 10-run rule stops the game after five innings if there is a 10-run difference between teams.
Peninsula (15-6) got that 10-run margin against the second-place team from the North Puget Sound League by relying on what the Seahawks have done all season: Getting on base, then putting the game in motion with steals and hit-and-runs.
Seahawks pitcher Hunter Bennett threw five scoreless innings, allowing only one hit in the win against Auburn Mountainview. Ed Johnson
“I prefer to play aggressive, because I love to put the game in motion and force the action. Pressure creates opportunities,” Seahawks coach Michael Johnson said. “With that said, it also takes a specific type of athletic, smart group of kids to be able to play as aggressively as I’d like and lucky for us, this group is just that.”
Peninsula’s next game is set for 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 14, against Silas (14-7) at Auburn. The Seahawks beat the Rams 6-0 on May 3. A win over Silas would put top-seeded Peninsula in the district championship game at 7 p.m. May 14 at Auburn.
Sophomore sensation JT Grande goes low to hit a ball back up the middle and drive in a run for the Seahawks. Ed Johnson
Three Seahawks were a perfect 2-2 against the Lions: sophomore third baseman JT Grande, who had three RBI, a stolen base and scored twice; shortstop Payton Knowles, who had three RBI, a walk and a stolen base; and Reese Brown, who scored twice and added a steal.
Duren Miller was 1-2 with two RBI and scored a run. Bennett threw a five-inning one-hitter, striking out five and walking only one.
Gig Harbor (12-11) matched their crosstown rivals with a 10-run-rule win of their own. The Tides beat the Auburn Riverside Ravens 11-1 on Tuesday, May 10, at Sehmel Field in a loser-out district playoff game.
Luke Miller looked comfortable and in control on the hill for Gig Harbor with a nice array of off-speed pitches, breaking balls and sneaky fastballs. Miller pitched three innings and struck out three, while surrendering only one unearned run.
Coach Pete Jansen was able to rest Miller while getting reliever Brendan Masini two innings of work. Masini retired six batters in a row with a cut fastball that was slicing at the knees.
Josh Dunham of the Tides drives a pitch deep to the gap for one of his two doubles. Ed Johnson
Gig Harbor found itself in the loser-out game after falling to North Puget Sound League champion Auburn, 7-3, on May 7. That game was tied at 3 before the Trojans scored the game’s final four runs after Tides starter Garrick Cosmos left the game.
The Tides possess an electric offense that has scored 160 runs in 23 games, an average of almost 7 runs per game. That includes a dizzying 23-run performance against Central Kitsap on April 20.
Longtime manager Pete Jansen doesn’t discuss batting averages because he wants his players to concentrate on getting on base and scoring runs. In his mind, batting average is not the most important stat, as baseball is a complex game with a lot of hitting measurables to consider.
That philosophy is working. The Tides have continuously scored on good pitching staffs, including scoring 12 runs in two games against the league-champion Peninsula Seahawks last month.
Against Auburn Riverside, the Tides got a big performance from Josh Dunham, who was 3-4 with two doubles, two stolen bases and an RBI. Wriley Schreiner went 2-2 with a double and three RBI, also getting on base when he took a nasty fastball to the left shoulder blade.
Ryland Heckman and his level swing was 2-2 with an RBI and the steady Brady Altman was 1-2 with two stolen bases, two intentional walks and a RBI. Altman has been consistently on base, delivering big hits in key situations all season long.
The Tides also play a tough brand of defense. Their outfielders cover a lot of ground and seem to have mastered the ability to catch fly balls while looking directly into a western sun at windy Sehmel Park.
The Tides’ Brady Altman lays down a bunt and sprints to first base. Ed Johnson
Gig Harbor has an excellent athlete at third base in Heckman, who turned in the defensive play of the game when a Raven attempted a bunt. Heckman loudly called off the pitcher as he sprinted towards the ball, lowering his 6-foot-2 inch frame to field a rolling ball and quickly fire a laser to first base in time to record an out.
Gig Harbor next faces Bonney Lake (18-4) for a chance to advance to the regional round of the playoffs. That game will be at noon Saturday, May 14, at Auburn Riverside.
The Lions from the Pierce County League, the second seed in the district tournament, lost to eighth-seeded Bainbridge 7- 2 on May 7. They narrowly beat No. 15 seed Prairie, 4-3, in a loser-out game on May 10.
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