MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — The Lynnwood High School baseball team is sure glad to have its ace back on the mound.
Standout pitcher Jared Whitman suffered a torn ligament in his elbow early last season that forced the Royals to shut him down after just two appearances. Limited to a designated-hitter role, Whitman spent most of last spring watching from the dugout during his team’s run to the Class 3A state quarterfinals.
But after an offseason of rehabilitation, the senior says his arm is back to full health. And he demonstrated that Tuesday night with a brilliant outing against a top-notch program.
Whitman tossed a two-hit shutout to lead Lynnwood to a 1-0 win over Snohomish at Mountlake Terrace High School in an early-season Wesco 3A pitcher’s duel between two teams that reached the state quarterfinals last spring.
“It’s huge,” Royals coach Fraser Dizard said of Whitman’s return to health this season. “He’s a big part of our team. Last year we made our whole playoff run to the final eight without him ever pitching, and he was always our number-one pitcher. So it’s big to have him back.”
After surrending a leadoff double in the first inning, Whitman retired 16 consecutive batters and finished with seven strikeouts and one walk. Yet it was more or less a typical showing from the star right-hander, who entered this season with a 0.70 career earned-run average in 80 1/3 innings pitched for Lynnwood (4-0, 1-0 Wesco 3A).
“He’s been pretty amazing on the mound since I’ve been coaching here, so I think I sometimes take it for granted that he does that well,” Dizard said. “He’s our senior, our number-one guy, and he came out there and showed it. I’m proud of him.”
Snohomish senior Kyle Sandifer also tossed a complete game, allowing just one run on five hits while recording eight strikeouts and one walk.
“What you saw was a playoff game that you should see in May, and you saw it in March,” Panthers coach Kim Hammons said. “That was just a dynamite pitching performance by both guys, and both guys deserved the victory.”
Lynnwood pushed across the game’s lone run in the fourth inning when star senior Kyler McMahan, an Oregon State University signee, looped a leadoff single into right field and came around to score three batters later on an RBI groundout by Nick Holmes.
McMahan, ranked by Baseball America last November as one of the nation’s top 100 high-school prospects, also had several nice plays at shortstop, including a diving catch to his right on a hard-hit line drive.
“The catcher was calling a good game and I had good defense behind me,” Whitman said. “My shortstop, Kyler, I’ve been playing with him since Little League, so I know he can make those amazing plays.”
Snohomish (2-3, 1-2) got its second hit of the night on an infield single in the top of the seventh and advanced the runner to second base with two outs, but Whitman induced a game-ending groundout to cap his complete-game gem.
“I’m glad to be back on the mound,” Whitman said. “Pitching is my number-one position, so it’s really nice to be back on the mound with my arm 100 percent.”