It’s time for the Sports Beat, a capsule of this week’s prep athletic events. We start with the game of the week on the baseball diamond as the Peninsula Seahawks and Gig Harbor Tides played a crucial two-game series Tuesday and Wednesday at Sehmel Park to decide the South Sound Conference championship.
Gig Harbor had pulled into contention with a thrilling, come-from-behind, 8-6 victory on Tuesday over first-place Peninsula. Then Peninsula secured the SSC championship with a decisive, 11-4 win on Wednesday.
The teams battled in front of large crowds that took up every parking space Sehmel Park could offer and then some.
Peninsula’s Payton Knowles connects on a belt-high fastball. Bryce Carithers
The first game between the two was a back-and-forth affair that saw the Seahawks get out to an early lead before Gig Harbor tied it up. Peninsula scored again to take the lead, but the resilient Tides and their timely hitting struck back with four runs in in the later innings, securing an 8-6 victory and slowing the senior night festivities for the Seahawks.
The rematch was set for the following day in one of the biggest games these young high schoolers have ever played in. Everyone looked a little bit nervous except the two head coaches, Michael Johnson of the Seahawks and Peter Jensen of the Tides, who smoothly glided around the turf in pregame warmups, both as cool as the other side of the pillow.
Gig Harbor got off to a shaky start Thursday, walking the first three batters as Peninsula jumped out to a 1-0 lead. Seahawks sophomore Gavin Sheets, who has had a fine season, opened on the hill and battled the Tides’ explosive lineup into the fifth inning. Sheets gave up two earned runs with five strikeouts and only one walk.
Gig Harbor has very good hitters with speed on the base path and again came back, knotting the score at two. Both teams hit the ball well but had some uncharacteristic errors in the infield, which extended innings and pitch counts.
The game turned in the third inning, when Peninsula junior Peyton Knowles reached on an error on a routine grounder to second base. Johnson, the aggressive Seahawks coach, then made three decisive decisions that helped his team to victory.
First, he called for Knowles to steal second. A few pitches later, he called for a hit and run, and Aden Deschenes smacked a rocket over third base that allowed Knowles to score from second.
After another Peninsula baserunner reached third, Johnson called for a bunt that was executed perfectly by the Seahawks. Gig Harbor catcher Sam Haddon fielded the bunt well, looked to third, then fired to first base to get the out. But the return throw to home was late, allowing a diving Seahawk to score for a 4-2 lead.
The Seahawks managed two more runs in the fourth in much the same way, with timely hitting and aggressive baserunning. With a 6-2 lead, the championship seemed within their grasp.
However, Gig Harbor refused to go quietly, rallying for two more runs in the fifth to bring the score to 6-4. The atmosphere at that point was about as good as it gets in high school baseball. Most of the fans had been there 24 hours earlier and watched the Tides come from behind.
But the Seahawks scored five insurance runs in the sixth and seventh innings, winning the game and the SSC championship.
Knowles supplied the Seahawks’ firepower with four hits, two walks, three runs and two RBI. The rugged Duren Miller was 3-6 with a double, a triple, four RBI and two walks.
Reece Brown had two hits, including a triple, and drove in three runs. Sophomore JT Grande came up Grande alright, going 2-4, scoring two runs and showed his power by launching a deep shot to the gap for a double.
Gig Harbor had some fine individual efforts in the two-game series. The physical Justin Holum went 3-6, scoring two runs with an RBI. Brady Altman was on fire, going 5-8 in the series with three runs scored.
Wriley Schreiner came up big in the series, going 4-7 while leading the Tides with four RBI. Jak McLellan was also hot, batting 4-7 with two RBI. The Tides also got consistent play from junior catcher Sam Haddon, who plays strong defense and controls runners with a big arm.
“League titles aren’t easy to come by and that is especially true in the SSC,” Seahawks coach Johnson said. “The teams in this league are incredibly competitive year in and year out. Each team is very well coached, so to earn the top spot truly is a great achievement for these kids.”
The unbeaten Gig Harbor girl’s tennis team (7-0) had conference power Yelm (8-0) beat on Thursday before Mother Nature stopped the match in its tracks.
Coach Lorrie Wood said the Tides were two points away from winning the match when it started pouring rain.
“We’d already won at one and three doubles and one and two singles were almost finished with wins as well,” Wood said. “We will finish that match and play a second match with Yelm on Monday at our GHHS courts.”
If the Tides can finish those matches out with wins at 3:30 p.m. Monday, they will be undefeated and newly crowned as SSC champions.
The Peninsula fastpitch team (12-1, 8-0 SSC) continues to impress. The Seahawks, ranked No. 2 in WIAA’s RPI rankings, beat RPI No. 9 Yelm (12-4) 9-0 on Monday behind junior pitcher Alli Kimball.
They followed that with a two-game sweep of Capital, 12-0 on Tuesday at Sehmel Field and 14-6 in Olympia on Thursday. The final score for the week: Peninsula 35, opponents 6.
The Tides and Riley Peschek await the rematch with the Seahawks for the SSC crown next Thursday. Ed Johnson
Somehow, coach Mike Paul’s Seahawks saw their RPI ranking drop from 2 to 6 following those efforts.
Across town, Gig Harbor is 8-1 after defeating River Ridge, 11-1, on Monday and Central Kitsap, 18-1, on Thursday. A Seahawks-Tides showdown is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 5, at Gig Harbor. The Tides have a chance to earn a share of the SSC title with a win.
The scrappy Peninsula boys soccer team (11-1-2) were crowned SSC champions after two wins, 2-1 over Central Kitsap on Tuesday and 3-0 over Timberline on Thursday.
Peninsula, No. 9 in WIAA’s RPI ranking, heads into the playoffs on a roll and looking for a state title with their well-balanced team.
The Peninsula soccer team are the South Sound Conference Champions after beating CK and Timberline this week. Bryce Carithers
Gig Harbor (10-3-1) sit in second place in the SSC after dispatching Yelm 5-1 on Thursday. They may be a surprise in the state 3A playoffs.
The Gig Harbor track team recently took a trip to the University of Oregon and its famed Hayward Field last week.
Tides track coach Kevin Eager has been the successful head coach for 19 years at Gig Harbor. In that time, he has coached his team to a remarkable six state titles, with four runner-up finishes.
“We were pretty happy with our kids’ efforts down in Oregon,” Eager said. “We really just take them there so they get a sense of a big-time atmosphere, and we think that helps them maintain composure in postseason events.”
Nick Grover takes the baton from Brian Wheelus in the 4100 relay to run the third fastest time in 3A track this year at famed Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. Courtesy Gig Harbor High School
The Tides boys 400-meter relay team performed very well on the bouncy track in Oregon. They made the final and ran a 43.68, currently third among 4×100 teams in Washington’s Class 3A.
The girls 400 relay team ran a season-best 50.78 even after a poor hand-off of the baton on the last leg. That time is good for seventh in 3A, but Eager thinks they can run much faster. The group consists of seniors Addy Hering, Skyler Kimble, Sophie Olson and Tia Berry.
The Tides have the current state leader in the boy’s triple jump, with senior Kael Probst leaping 44 feet, 10 inches. He is also ranked eighth in the long jump at a personal best of 21 feet, 6 inches.
Sophomore Ben Stevens is ranked fourth in 3A in the 400 meters with a 50.61. On the girls side, other standout performances include senior Skyler Kimble, who is 10th in 3A in the 100 meter with a 12.77; sophomore Lydia Ward, 10th in the javelin with a throw of 112 feet, 6 inches; and junior Reese Morkert, 11th in the 1,600 meters with an impressive time of 55:12.59.
Gig Harbor and Peninsula squared off late Friday, April 29, in the Baggataway Bowl.
The Tides would like to avenge a 5-4 loss to the Seahawks earlier in the season. Lacrosse supremacy in Gig Harbor was on the line, and so was the Olympic League title.
Look for that game and more in next week’s Sports Beat.
The last time the Tides and Seahawks played lacrosse this season the Seahawks walked away with a 5-4 victory. Christi Adams
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