The nationally ranked Vikings won their second state title since 2014 with a 3-2 win over the Falcons.
Kentlake junior Jordon Wright stood on the Safeco Field pitching mound wondering when he, too, would get swallowed up by Puyallup’s baseball team, ranked No. 17 in the nation by USA Today, in the Class 4A state championship game Saturday.
The Vikings were in the midst of their 10th state appearance and hadn’t lost a game this season since March.
“After the first inning, my legs were still shaking,” Wright said. “You hear they have a couple of Division I players on their team and I’m not a Division I player pitching-wise. I don’t throw upper-80s. I would expect them to hit me hard.”
Puyallup (25-2) admitted Wright found their weakness within the strike-zone and with his breaking ball. But loaded with talent, Puyallup adapted to win 3-2 for the program’s second Class 4A state title.
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The Vikings also won the title in 2014. Coach Marc Wiese immediately commented he’d like his two championship teams to play each other, slightly giving an edge to the current roster, which ends its high-school season on a 25-game win streak.
“We’re the team that everybody’s rooting against,” Wiese said. “When you’re pretty good, that’s what you want and I love that feeling. Hopefully we can continue those things.”
Kentlake (19-7) quickly became a crowd favorite with its underdog run to the title game, using “Unlikely Kentlake” as a rally cry. It last played for a championship in 2008, also placing second.
Puyallup senior pitcher Michael Spellacy, a Gonzaga commit, dwarfed Wright in terms of stature on the mound. However, both tempered the opposition’s bats.
Wright struggled in the second inning when the Vikings had four hits and scored two runs. Kentlake coach Brett Jaime went to the mound to talk to Wright, and the pitcher then got a double play to escape the inning.
The Falcons tied the score in the third inning. Seniors Caleb Jaime, the coach’s nephew, and Shane Nagel each had RBI singles. Kentlake only had a runner in scoring position once the remainder of the game.
Wright’s energy started to deteriorate in the fourth inning. He walked a batter that Puyallup junior catcher Brady Hinkle drove in for the winning run on an RBI double with two outs.
In the fifth inning, the Vikings had a bases loaded situation against Wright, but hit into a double play. Wright was pulled before the sixth inning. He struck out five and allowed the three runs.
“I was going to take him out, we had already decided,” Jaime said about the fifth inning, when he ended up leaving him in. “Jordon wanted the ball. So, even though he’s talking about his confidence, it was great for that moment. Everybody knew he was done, he had nothing left and was running on fumes. But if he wants the ball, I’ll let him finish it.”
Puyallup closer Noah Fenz finished off Kentlake in the seventh.
“It was like a 15-round bout,” said Spellacy, who gave up six hits and struck out three batters in six innings. “I’m speechless, honestly. It’s a crazy feeling. This is what I worked for, what I talked about with my mom in the backyard at the age of 3. These are things you dream about and it’s a reality now.”
• Kentwood led 3-1 against Skyview in the second inning of its Class 4A state third-place game on Saturday. But Skyview used a four-run sixth inning to steal an eventual 7-4 win at Safeco Field.
The Conquerors made their third straight trip to the tournament. It placed second last year.