The Falcons’ starting pitcher, Jordon Wright, was hit by a line drive and gave up four runs, but he settled down to pitch Kentlake past Sumner.
PUYALLUP — The pain was almost too much.
Kentlake pitcher Jordon Wright was tagged by a line drive on his first throw of the game against Sumner. The welt on his right forearm throbbed too much to throw his change-up and worsened after giving up three runs in the opening inning of the Falcons’ Class 4A state regional baseball final at Heritage Park.
Wright’s dad provided the motivation to push through — his older brother Zach faced a similar first inning in the 2008 reginal final. Although it was just two runs and not the addition of an injury from a hit.
“If he could do it, I can, too,” Jordon said. “I wanted to battle through.”
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The younger Wright only gave up one more run in the following four innings. Teammate Dylan Mackie closed the game, sealing a 9-5 win on Saturday.
No. 9 Kentlake (18-6) advances to the Class 4A state semifinals at Safeco Field next weekend. It’s a first since the older Wright was on the mound, that team placing second.
“When I get to the field, it’s going to be butterflies,” Jordon said as his teammates crowded in the outfield making three calls on speakerphone to spread the news.
Kentlake coach Brett Jaime couldn’t attend due to a funeral and didn’t answer, but assistant Brian Hartnett, who’s on a business trip in New York, and assistant Carson McCord, who had to work Saturday evening, did and the team erupted into cheers and inside jokes.
“No one expected us to get this far,” senior center fielder Jayke Chavez said. “This feels amazing. People finally have to take us seriously. We’ve been working so hard all year, for people to finally see that is amazing. I mean, the energy we bring. Sumner tried to compete with it, but they can’t keep up with us.”
Sumner pitcher Kyle Van Hout had an equally rough first inning as Wright. The pitchers combined for 60 pitches, Kentlake batting around and scoring four runs.
Van Hout was pulled in the fifth inning after giving up a two-out, two-run homer. He finished with six runs on seven hits in 82 pitches. But relievers Ben Wilson and Gabe Smith also struggled and Sumner’s defense was littered with errors. The Spartans (17-9) had three and Kentlake only had four earned runs.
The most costly blip might have been in the seventh inning with the bases loaded. The officials called Van Hout for interfering while on first base on a pop-up foul ball.
“It was a weird play,” Sumner coach Casey Adcox said. “You want to keep momentum, but you can’t sit here and say it made a big impact on the game with the score the way it was. … They knew they let a couple of things get away from them. What are you going to do about it? Hang our head? We’ve got a lot of returners and these are teachable moments.”
Kentlake plays Kentwood at 1 p.m. on Friday in the Class 4A state semifinals at Safeco Field. The teams split a regular-season series in April.
“It’s crazy, I love it,” said Heath Dempsey, the acting head coach. “The guys came out to play hard. They fought through some adversity in the first inning. And Jordon, he was just tough.”
• Kentwood (18-6) also advanced to the Class 4A state semifinals, beating fellow North Puget Sound League team Kennedy Catholic (16-10) in a regional final in Tacoma 3-2. Kentwood had a walkoff win in the first round, rallying with two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to beat Battle Ground of Vancouver 3-2.