A baseball preview appeared in The Seattle Times before the season with a headline that read: “Will Shorewood reach Pasco?”
That article was printed out and posted in the Thunderbirds’ dugout, and each player wrote a goal around the edge. After every game, coach Wyatt Tonkin told his players he had a question to ask them.
“Will we reach Pasco?”
That question is no longer answered merely by a determined chorus. Shorewood will appear in the Class 3A state baseball semifinals this Friday in Pasco, facing Bonney Lake as it tries to finish its quest for the first title in the Shoreline school’s history. The other 3A semifinal will pit O’Dea and Mount Spokane.
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The answer to the season-long question came via a pair of shutdown pitching performances. Sam Boone scattered four singles in a complete-game effort in Saturday’s first contest as Shorewood beat Mount Si of Snoqualmie 2-0. The win was especially sweet considering Shorewood was one out away from a state championship in 2011 before the Wildcats came back to steal away the title.
Ian Oxnevad duplicated that with a complete-game shutout later in the day as the Thunderbirds squeaked by Bainbridge with a 1-0 win to reach the state semifinals.
In both games, Tonkin had to decide whether to go to the bullpen as pitch counts rose and arm fatigue settled in.
“There’s been a bond and there’s been a trust there that has developed over the four years with these kids,” said Tonkin of being able to talk to his pitchers on the mound. “And they’re competitors, these two guys, they compete. … They don’t want to come out of games. They have pride in their starts.”
Tonkin has options, though, if one of his starters falters this weekend. Plenty of trusted arms wait in the bullpen and may be needed against the other semifinalists, who averaged 6.5 runs last Saturday. Shorewood averaged 1.5.
“Being there is the goal that we set,” Tonkin said. “Now that we’re there, what the heck, might as well win it.”