EVERETT — The only thing that stopped Case Matter was the pitch-count limit.
The Jackson sophomore delivered the game of his life, pitching the Timberwolves to a district title and their first state berth in five seasons.
Matter tossed 6 2⁄3 masterful innings of no-hit ball before exiting due to the 105-pitch limit, leading No. 2-seeded Jackson to a 3-0 win over top-seeded Cascade in the Class 4A Northwest District championship game Thursday night at Everett Memorial Stadium.
“That was by far the best game I’ve ever pitched,” he said. “No words can explain (it).”
Matter struck out 13 of the 23 batters he faced and allowed just three baserunners. He hit two batters, and another reached on an error.
The hard-throwing right-hander was dealing from the get-go, striking out seven of the first eight batters he faced. He kept Cascade hitters off-balance all night by mixing his hard fastball with a devastating curveball and changeup.
“His curveball looked dirty today,” Jackson catcher Ben Steck said. “Whenever he gets his changeup, curveball and fastball going, it’s pretty unhittable. … It was incredible. The way he did that out there was incredible.”
Matter helped himself with a great defensive play in the sixth inning, bare-handing a soft grounder on the third-base side and firing to first baseman Addison Beckman, who stretched for the inning-ending out to keep the no-hit bid alive. After the play, Matter was mobbed by his teammates while trotting back to the dugout.
“It was a big game and I knew I had to do a big thing for my team,” he said. “I just laid it all out there.”
End 6: Jackson 2, Cascade 0.
Jackson pitcher Case Matter kept his no-hit bid alive with a great defensive play in the bottom of the sixth. The sophomore right-hander has 12 strikeouts and no walks. pic.twitter.com/iCGdLrHB5x
— Cameron Van Til (@CameronVanTil) May 11, 2018
Matter, who dealt with a hurt arm earlier this spring and didn’t pitch for Jackson (15-6) until the ninth game of the season, entered the district championship having logged just 15 2/3 innings this year. But the sophomore looked like a seasoned veteran while mowing down the Wesco 4A regular-season champions in the winner-to-state contest.
“My confidence, it was through the roof,” he said. “The adrenaline was pumping through my veins.”
Matter was two strikes from a no-hitter when he reached the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s limit of 105 pitches. The WIAA recently passed an amendment for next season that will allow pitchers to finish the at-bat after reaching 105 pitches.
“I was so mad,” Matter said of having to exit the game. “My coach told me that next year they’re changing the rules so that you can finish the batter, so that made me even more mad.”
Jackson freshman pitcher Evan Canfield came in and struck out the final batter to complete the combined no-hitter and punch the Timberwolves’ ticket to the 4A state regionals.
“It’s awesome,” Steck said of reaching state. “I’ve been looking forward to it since Little League, playing at Jackson and going to state. It’s a dream come true.”
Jackson senior Carter Booth led off the game with a walk, stole second base and took third on a pitch in the dirt. Lefty cleanup hitter Diego Altamirano then ripped a two-out double to the right-field fence, scoring Booth for a 1-0 Timberwolves lead.
In the fifth, Jackson’s Chase Mathews drew a leadoff walk before stealing second base and taking third on the catcher’s errant throw into center field. Kyle Serres, the ensuing batter, then drove in Mathews on a sacrifice fly to right field that made it 2-0.
Jackson added another run in the top of the seventh on a towering fly ball that the Bruins’ right fielder lost in the lights.
Cascade starter Brock Gillis allowed two runs and two hits in six innings pitched. The sophomore right-hander struck out four batters and walked four.
The Bruins (17-4) will face No. 3-seeded Mount Vernon on Saturday for the district’s second and final state berth.