Most high school baseball teams would consider themselves fortunate to have one dominant ace.
Edmonds-Woodway has two.
With senior right-handers Gibby Marshall-Inman and Jacob Gabler mowing down opposing lineups all season long, the Warriors don’t just possess a one-two punch.
As their coaches like to say: It’s 1a and 1b.
“I’ve never had a combo like this since I’ve been coaching here at Edmonds-Woodway,” said Warriors coach Dan Somoza, who’s in his 14th season at the helm. “It basically is two aces on one staff.
“You’ve got your 1a and 1b — and it doesn’t matter. Each one of them pushes each other, challenges each other, and it’s fun to watch.”
Marshall-Inman and Gabler have combined for an eye-popping 0.48 earned-run average this season, surrendering a total of just seven earned runs in 102 innings pitched.
They’ve struck out a whopping 45.8% of the batters they’ve faced, while walking just 10.9%.
And this postseason, the two 6-foot-6 hurlers have been nearly untouchable.
Marshall-Inman and Gabler — who’ve pitched 33.1 of 34.1 innings for Edmonds-Woodway during the playoffs — haven’t allowed an earned run all postseason. As a result, the Warriors have allowed just three runs combined in their five playoff games.
“They strike out so many guys, so (we) don’t have to field many balls,” Somoza said. “But not only that — they don’t walk a lot of guys too. So they don’t give other teams many chances.
“And when (opponents) are only putting the ball in play six or seven times a game, I like our percentages.”
With Marshall-Inman and Gabler leading the way, Edmonds-Woodway is making its fourth consecutive Class 3A state regional appearance.
The No. 15 seed Warriors (15-10) face No. 2 seed Lake Washington at 10 a.m. Saturday at Mount Si High School. The winner then faces either No. 7 seed Lynnwood or No. 10 seed Mt. Spokane later in the day for a trip to next week’s 3A state final four in Pasco.
“When they’re on the mound, we always have a chance to compete and win games,” Somoza said. “And they give us that every time — every single time.
“They don’t take pitches off. And I think that’s what makes them incredible pitchers — their focus. They’re gamers. They pound the strike zone and they compete.”
Marshall-Inman and Gabler are longtime friends who have been playing together for years.
They played on back-to-back state championship teams with the Pacific Little League All-Stars, winning the 10-and-11-year-old state title in 2015 and the 12-year-old state crown in 2016. Their 2016 team reached the Northwest Regionals and came within one win of advancing to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Since then, Marshall-Inman and Gabler have spent most summers playing on the same select teams.
Marshall-Inman went to King’s High School for his freshman and sophomore years, but joined Gabler at Edmonds-Woodway after transferring midway through high school.
“To share the success with him, it means a lot to me,” Gabler said. “For both of us to be playing like this … at our full potential right now, it’s honestly kind of like a brotherhood between us.
“We’re picking up each other, we’re always supporting each other, and it’s allowing us to feed off each other and just continue to pitch better and better.”
Marshall-Inman, who is committed to national powerhouse Oregon State University, is one of the state’s top senior pitching recruits.
He sports a polished delivery and a lethal fastball-changeup-curveball mix. His heater touches 90 mph and sits in the high 80s, according to Somoza, and he can consistently throw both of his offspeed pitches for strikes.
Marshall-Inman has a 0.56 ERA in 50 innings pitched this season, including an ongoing streak of 25 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. He has totaled 73 strikeouts and just 25 walks, with a 38.9% punchout rate and a .064 opponents’ batting average.
Marshall-Inman threw a no-hitter against Shorewood on March 23 and a one-hit shutout in a district quarterfinal win over eventual state qualifier Stanwood on May 7.
“He has an outstanding changeup and a curveball that he can throw for strikes at will,” Somoza said. “And I think that’s what makes him really tough. He’s a competitor and he has that ability to throw any of those pitches for strikes.
“So you have to respect his fastball, because he throws really hard. But also in the back of your mind, you’re thinking about that curve or that changeup. … He’s just your prototypical real smooth guy.”
Gabler, meanwhile, is more of a power pitcher. He leans on a blazing fastball that touches 92 mph, according to Somoza, and he mixes in a hard curveball.
Gabler, a Bellevue College commit, has a 0.40 ERA in 52 innings. He has an absurd 52.6% strikeout rate, with 103 punchouts and just 17 walks. And he’s tossed 37 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run, dating back to his third outing of the season on March 31.
Gabler spun a no-hitter against Cascade on April 27, finishing just a walk away from a perfect game. He pitched a three-hit shutout in a district play-in victory over Shorewood on May 6.
And in Edmonds-Woodway’s 2-1 extra-inning win over Gig Harbor in Tuesday’s 3A state play-in round, he struck out 14 of the 25 batters he faced in a dazzling seven-inning performance that helped keep the Warriors’ season alive.
“He’s a real bulldozer,” Somoza said. “He’s got an overpowering fastball and he just comes right at guys. … And he’s got that downward angle where that ball is just coming straight down and really tough to hit.
“And then when he needs to, he’s got that good curveball too. But for the most part, he just tries to overpower guys. And he does.”
Both pitchers have benefited from recent velocity increases.
Marshall-Inman, who began taking pitching lessons around age 10, said he wasn’t a high-velocity pitcher growing up. He said that helped him in the long run by forcing him learn the intricacies of pitching.
“It’s nice being able to know how to sequence and have a good three-pitch mix,” he said.
But as a sophomore in 2020, Marshall-Inman made some mechanical changes that included altering his arm path and improving his body rotation. It paid major dividends, ultimately leading to his first big velocity spike.
“I was able to hit a velo jump that I never really had in the past,” he said.
Gabler, meanwhile, pitched on Edmonds-Woodway’s junior varsity team as a freshman. By his own admission, he said he didn’t throw “super fast.”
But during his sophomore year, Gabler hit the weight room hard and bulked up. As a result, he said his fastball velocity increased to around 85 mph by last year’s abbreviated high school season.
Gabler ended up being sidelined with bicep tendonitis for much of last season, as well as most of last summer.
But after returning to health, he worked with his pitching coach to improve his mechanics and overall body mobility. That resulted in another velocity spike, which led to his dominance this spring.
“These two guys have put in a lot of hard work, and the results are showing it,” Somoza said. “It’s incredible. I haven’t seen anything like it for quite a while.”
Marshall-Inman and Gabler also are two of the Warriors’ top hitters. Marshall-Inman, more of a spray hitter, is batting a team-high .412 with 10 extra-base hits. Gabler, more of a power hitter, is batting .380 with 12 extra-base hits.
“They’re both outstanding hitters,” Somoza said.
As the No. 15 seed, Edmonds-Woodway is technically the underdog heading into Saturday’s four-team state regional at Mount Si. But with Marshall-Inman slated to take the mound against Lake Washington and Gabler in line to start if they reach the regional final later in the afternoon, the Warriors like their chances.
After all, these potential doubleheader playoff situations tend to favor teams with two quality pitchers.
Or in Edmonds-Woodway’s case, two elite ones.
“You’ve got as good a shot as any with two horses like that,” Warriors assistant coach Will Budnick said.
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