Brenden Gent said he could tell before the game started that something wasn't right. Guys were antsy, even nervous. And when he and his...
BELLEVUE — Brenden Gent said he could tell before the game started that something wasn’t right. Guys were antsy, even nervous. And when he and his Bainbridge High teammates took the field yesterday for the biggest moment of their prep careers, it showed.
Fighting themselves nearly as much as their opponents, the sixth-ranked Spartans succumbed to the early pressure and fell to seventh-ranked Mark Morris of Longview, 5-3, in the first round of the Class 3A state baseball tournament at Bannerwood Park.
Mark Morris (21-5) then beat Lynden 10-5 in the quarterfinals to earn a spot in Friday’s 10 a.m. semifinal at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma. It will be the Monarchs’ first Final Four appearance since 1975.
The Spartans (15-7), meanwhile, went home shaking their heads, wondering how things might have been different had it not been for some sloppy play early and some shaky pitching and defense, two of the team’s season-long strengths.
“We were a little nervous,” admitted Gent, who drove in all three of his team’s runs and accounted for three of its five hits. “This is the first time we’ve been to the state tournament — for the guys that are on our team right now.”
Bainbridge last made state in 2001, and yesterday started a lineup that included only three seniors.
“We had young guys on the field, we had a lot of young guys off the bench,” said cleanup hitter Matt Frazee. “I think it helped out a lot because getting the jitters out of our system this year, hopefully, we can come back next year, play a little smoother, and we won’t have the butterflies in the stomach.”
The Spartans committed two errors in the first inning, four in the game. Their pitching staff walked five batters, hit two more. And the offense made 11 fly-ball outs. In short, there was plenty of blame to go around.
“We were nervous, man,” said coach Jayson Gore, an assistant during Bainbridge’s three previous state appearances from 1999 to 2001. “The tension was there. You could see it.”
Other loser-out game
Lynden 1, Peninsula 0
Lance Wagter’s two-out, sixth-inning homer provided Lynden all the offense it needed thanks to a strong pitching performance from Scott Hardinger.
Hardinger, a senior, spun a complete-game two-hitter, striking out seven and walking none.
Peninsula (15-8), from Gig Harbor, suffered its ninth straight first-round state-playoff defeat dating to 1985. Jon Hagen had the Seahawks’ two hits.
Mark Morris 10, Lynden 5
The Monarchs from Longview scored eight times in the second inning, collected 17 hits and coasted past Lynden to reach their first Final Four since 1975. Leadoff man Mickey Polis and No. 3 hitter Ian Dahl combined to go 8 for 9 with three doubles and three runs batted in. Lynden finished 15-11.