By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
MARYSVILLE — When practices began for the high school baseball season, Garrett Davis didn’t know if he should bring his bat with him.
The Marysville-Pilchuck senior expected to be limited to pitching duties in his final prep season. Although he didn’t end up completely retiring his batting gloves, starting opportunities in the field were few and far between.
So Davis was an unlikely candidate to deliver the biggest hit in the biggest game of the 2010 Wesco North season so far. But deliver he did, and he did so in the grandest manner possible.
Davis belted a walk-off, two-out grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning, giving the Tomahawks a 9-5 victory over the Lake Stevens Vikings on Friday afternoon in the first meeting between the Wesco North giants.
“I was just looking for something to hit hard,” Davis said. “I wasn’t sure I was going to go to bat because I thought I might get pinch hit for. I was struggling all day. I saw a good pitch to hit and took the biggest hack I could and watched it fly.
“It’s better than anything I’ve felt in a long time.”
Friday’s game matched teams that were undefeated and ranked in the top 10 in the Class 4A state poll. Those in attendance were treated to a contest worthy of its billing. Marysville-Pilchuck rallied from five runs down to eventually tie the game in the bottom of the seventh. Then in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and two out, Davis lined a 1-0 fastball over the fence in center field, setting off a raucous Tomahawks celebration once he reached home plate.
“I can’t say enough about Garrett Davis,” Marysville-Pilchuck coach Kurt Koshelnik said. “That may have been his third start at first base today. We’ve kind of juggled first basemen to see who’s hitting a little bit, it was his turn, and I’d say today he did the job. I couldn’t be happier for him, to win a game with a grand slam his senior year is pretty cool.”
Friday’s contest was the first of two in five days between Marysville-Pilchuck (11-0 league, 13-0 overall) and Lake Stevens (8-1, 12-1). These two contests will in all likelihood determine the Wesco North champion as every other team has at least four league losses.
Yet both sides were quick to play up the quality of the game and quick to play down the importance of the result.
“It’s a great experience for us,” Lake Stevens coach Rodger Anderson said. “This is going to help us down the road because we haven’t had any close games yet. This is what I wanted, it was a good, close high school baseball game.”
The rematch is Tuesday at Lake Stevens.
Lake Stevens appeared in control when the Vikings scored five runs in the top of the third, capped by Anthony Blackie slugging a grand slam of his own. With Dylan LaVelle looking confident on the mound, the Vikings were poised to be the team that remained unbeaten.
However, the Tomahawks slowly chipped away, with a little help from Lake Stevens defensive miscues, and pulled within two going into the seventh.
That’s when Marysville-Pilchuck’s first batch of heroics took place. With two out, Austin Denton lined a double to right-center, driving in one to make it a one-run game. Then on a 1-2 pitch Tyler Klep lined a blast to the left-center gap. Lake Stevens left fielder Jake Nelson made a diving leap for the ball, but just missed as the Tomahawks tied it up and forced extra innings.
“The one thing I told the players after (Blackie’s) grand slam is, ‘Let’s make sure we keep the pressure on,’” Anderson said. “We got baserunners on, we had some chances, but Marysville’s a good team. They made great pitches and made some defensive plays.”
Those key pitches were delivered by Marysville-Pilchuck reliever Brennen Steinbaugh. Steinbaugh, who entered at the start of the fifth, pitched himself out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth to keep the game alive. He finished with five scoreless innings of relief.
Then, in the bottom of the ninth, a leadoff double by Dane Widness was followed by outs alternated with walks, setting the stage for Davis.
“I’m happy for our kids because we got tested today,” Koshelnik said. “That’s a really good Lake Stevens team. I think our Tomahawk team grew up a little today. That’s what I’m happiest about.”
Denton finished 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two RBI.
LaVelle struck out nine in his seven innings of work. Brandon Fiske, Matt Sweeney and Zac Israel each had two hits for the Vikings.
At Marysville-Pilchuck H.S.
LaVelle, Clayton (8) and Tyler; Thomas, Steinbaugh (5) and Flanders. WP—Steinbaugh. LP—Clayton. 2B-Denton (MP) 2, Klep (MP), Widness (MP). HR—Blackie (LS), Davis (MP). Records-Lake Stevens 8-1 league, 12-1 overall. Marysville-Pilchuck 11-0, 13-0.