Walks doomed Bainbridge on Tuesday afternoon, as a patient West Seattle baseball team used a whopping eight free passes in the fifth inning to capture a 13-8 win at Steve Cox Memorial Park and a spot in the Metro League championship game.
West Seattle, already guaranteed its fifth consecutive trip to the state tournament, will face O’Dea, an 11-6 winner over Seattle Prep, at 7 p.m. at Steve Cox on Thursday for the league title.
“It’s definitely mental; it just kind of snowballed and I don’t think it mattered who we put in there,” said Bainbridge coach David Smart, who used four pitchers in the decisive fifth inning. “It’s really tough to have them bounce back in the middle of the game.”
West Seattle trailed 8-5 entering the bottom of the fifth, but Spartans reliever Brice Kozlosky wasn’t able to find the strike zone. Kozlosky threw 11 balls before registering a strike, and he quickly walked the bases loaded.
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Ben Wexler brought a run home with a sacrifice fly before the walks returned en masse. Five straight walks, plus a hit batter, followed to score five more runs. Morgan McCullough drove in another run with a sacrifice fly and Graham French capped the scoring with an RBI double.
West Seattle coach Velko Vitalich started having his players take pitches after Kozlosky’s four-pitch walk to start the inning.
“We said, ‘We might as well take it if we’re going to get it,’ ” Vitalich said. “It turned into a big inning.”
French provided the big bat among the walks for West Seattle, collecting three hits, including a home run and double, and four RBI.
Junior Kevin Cuddy picked up the win for the Wildcats with three innings in relief.
The fifth was the second time West Seattle overcame a three-run deficit. In the first inning Bainbridge slugger Tino Peleti hit a three-run home run.
“It’s a confidence thing with the kids knowing they can still come back,” Vitalich said. “If we don’t let down and we keep plugging away, good things can happen.”
Freshman Brooks Wallace faced just two batters, allowing a sacrifice fly and a walk, but was stuck with the loss for Bainbridge, which faces Chief Sealth in a loser-out game at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
O’Dea 11, Seattle Prep 6
O’Dea hit three home runs en route to its win over Seattle Prep in a Metro League tournament game.
The Irish are guaranteed a trip to state and face West Seattle on Thursday for the league title. Seattle Prep plays Lakeside in a loser-out game at 4 p.m. Wednesday.