SHORELINE — One of the more unusual games in Wyatt Tonkin’s coaching career ended with a milestone victory.
The longtime Thunderbirds baseball coach earned his 300th career win when Shorewood beat rival Shorecrest 2-1 last Thursday in a 15-inning Wesco 3A contest that spanned two days.
In the moments afterward, Tonkin’s thoughts were with his late wife, Alice, who passed away at the beginning of the season.
“For me, (the win) was for her,” Tonkin said. “For all of my career at Shorewood, she’s always been there — always cheery when you win and the comforter when you lost. I just wish she was there to see it.”
The game began Wednesday with 13 scoreless innings before being suspended because of an issue with the stadium lights.
After play resumed Thursday, both teams scored a run in the 14th inning. Shorewood senior cleanup hitter Jake Fredrickson then crushed a go-ahead solo homer in the top of the 15th to lift the Thunderbirds (11-4 overall, 9-3 Wesco 3A) and their coach to victory.
“I was doing a lot of pacing,” Tonkin said of the two-day, 15-inning marathon.
Tonkin took over as Shorewood’s coach in 1999 and has spent his entire 19-season career with the program.
Under Tonkin, the Thunderbirds have made six state-tournament appearances and five trips to the state semifinals. Four of the semifinal appearances have come in the past seven seasons, including trips to the Class 3A state title game in 2011 and 2015.
Shorewood also has claimed at least a share of the Wesco 3A South title each of the past four seasons.
“Over the years, our program has been pretty stable, pretty consistent,” said Tonkin, who pitched for the University of Washington and played three seasons in the minor leagues after being selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 20th round of the 1976 Major League Baseball draft. “I’ve just had the great fortune to have a fantastic athletic director, absolutely fabulous assistant coaches and, gosh, just great talent.”
Tonkin said at least 60 players from his program over the years have gone on to play college baseball. Seven of his former players have been drafted, including 2011 graduate Blake Snell, currently a starting pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays.
“With the talent that I’ve had over the years, it was a win not for me, but for the T-Bird nation — all the guys that have played in the past from 1999 on,” Tonkin said. “They were the ones who did it. I just kind of fill out the lineup card, clap my hands and put a sign out there once in a while.
“For those guys, that was a big win, a big milestone.”