And the Grizzlies left no doubt about it.
They scored five times in the third inning and never let up the rest of the game, piling on seven more runs — including a pinch-hit grand slam by freshman Deven Kamihara — while defeating Mountlake Terrace 12-2 in the 3A District 1 championship at Meridian Park Ball Field. The game ended after six innings because of the 10-run rule.
“We played well,” Glacier Peak head coach Bob Blair said. “We came and maintained our aggressiveness and that's what we were looking for — to carry that from our last few games, into this, and then onto the state tournament.”
Ty Deckwa got the scoring underway in the third inning with a two-run single. Chris Watkins and Ryan Ober also had RBI base hits as Glacier Peak staked a 5-0 lead.
“We're so glad (to be district champs),” Glacier Peak senior Austin Hines said. “We started off slow this season, but we're finishing strong. We're hitting our stride at the right time. It's a good time to be peaking.”
Glacier Peak added three more runs in the fourth inning. Even with a big lead, however, Blair was still wary of the Hawks and their offensive potential.
“Having played them earlier in the year in a 16-12 game, having an eight-run lead is not comfortable with them,” Blair said. “They're a good team and they hit the ball well and they can score runs. We played them three times and in those three games they put up 25 runs on us. We got a lead, but you've got to finish these guys off.”
The Grizzlies put their coach's mind at ease a bit in the top of the sixth inning. With the bases loaded, Kamihara was sent to the plate to pinch hit and in just his second varsity at bat, he crushed a ball to deep right field.
The ball hit the white line on the outfield fence just above the “348” feet sign and bounced back onto the field, prompting Kamihara to stop at second base until the home plate umpire waved him in. As Kamihara finished circling the bases, joyous teammates waited at home plate to mob him.
“I'm sure he's smiling ear-to-ear on that one,” Blair said, and then explained his decision to bat Kamihara. “… I said, ‘Hey, you want to take a hack at one?' It's his second at bat of his varsity high school career, so he's hitting .500 with a home run and four RBI.”
“That was crazy,” Deckwa said. “At that point it was a fun day. You know everything's going your way then.”
Deckwa finished 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI and two runs scored. He was one of three Glacier Peak hitters — including Ray Rude and Austin Hines — with multiple base hits.
“Ty Deckwa had our first two RBI. That was a clutch at-bat for us,” Blair said. “… Him coming up in that situation and just clutching up with a hit — that was pretty big. And then he just continued that throughout the game and kept getting hits.”
The run support proved to be enough for Grizzlies' starting pitcher Jacob Lundin, who earned the victory.
“It gives me a lot more confidence out there,” Lundin said of pitching with a big lead. “I don't have to paint the corners. I can just let them get themselves out. (The Hawks) were hitting the ball really well. I just tried to pitch and they made contact and we got them out.”
It all resulted in a big victory for Glacier Peak (13-10 overall).
“(Glacier Peak) played like a championship team today,” Mountlake Terrace head coach Andrew Watters said. “They're going to be a tough team for someone at state to get because they're such a good-hitting team. They're tough to shut out and they'll be competitive wherever.”
Mountlake Terrace (13-10)now turns its attention to the Hawks' first-round state game. They take on the No. 2 seed from District 3/4 at 10 a.m. next Saturday at Bannerwood Park in Bellevue.
Watters said his postgame speech to the Hawks was short: “‘We're going to state.' That was it.”
“We're having a short memory of this game,” he added. “On Monday we show up to practice to get ready to go to Bannerwood. That's going to be our focus all week. This game is over. We're not even going to talk about it.”
Glacier Peak is headed to state for the third time in the past four seasons. The Grizzlies face the District 3/4 No. 4 team at 1 p.m. Saturday at Dream Field in Mount Vernon.
Winning the district championship was the next step for Glacier Peak's baseball program. With that accomplished, now they'll be seeking their first state tournament victory and eyeing the ultimate prize — a state championship.
“We talked about, as a team, making each progression,” Blair said. “The first two years we struggled to make it. We had to start from nothing. By Year 2, we had made it to districts and were one game away from state, so that was our first hurdle. Then we made it to state three years ago and made it again, clearing our next hurdle.
“We talked about this being our next hurdle: winning the district title and going in as a No. 1 seed and competing at the state level.
“A state championship is the next hurdle,” Blair added. “We're hoping we can cover two hurdles in one year.”
At Meridian Park
Glacier Peak 005 304 x — 12 11 0
Mountlake Terrace 000 101 x — 2 3 2
Jacob Lundin, Sam Wyatt (5), Kyle Umperovitch (6) and Geoff Rogers, Colton Bunt (5). Dominic DeMiero, Raiden Silva (3), Jason Shevenko (4) and Wyatt Allemann. WP–Lundin. LP–DeMiero. 2B–Ty Deckwa (GP), DeMiero (MT). HR–Deven Kamihara (GP). Records–Glacier Peak 13-10 overall. Mountlake Terrace 13-10.
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