SHORELINE — Lynnwood starting pitcher Jared Whitman went toe to toe with one of the best pitchers in the state in Shorewood’s Ian Oxnevad on Tuesday and arguably outdueled him, but it was what Whitman did with his bat that had his teammates and Royals fans most excited.
Whitman’s two-run double in the top of the ninth ignited a four-run inning and the Royals held on to beat the Thunderbirds 4-0 in nine innings.
“He’s only a sophomore and he’s been having a great year,” Lynnwood head coach Fraser Dizard said of Whitman. “He’s had a couple of big hits already. That’s what it’s all about, right? Going out there and pitching and getting the game-winning hit. I’m excited for him and I told him to enjoy it.”
The game was a scoreless tie through eight innings thanks in large part to the pitching performances of Whitman and Oxnevad. Whitman got through seven innings before Dizard called on Lucas Jungmann to pitch in relief. Oxnevad pitched eight innings before Shorewood head coach Wyatt Tonkin replaced him with the team’s No. 2 starter Cole McKisson, who pitched the ninth inning.
Lynnwood’s Lawton Manipon led off the top of the ninth inning by reaching base on an error by the third baseman. The Royals followed that up with back-to-back bunt singles by Kyler McMahan and Brady Girgus to load the bases with no one out.
“We work on bunts pretty much every day in practice,” Dizard said. “All year long we’ve had a lot of bunt hits. I’ve got some guys that just find a way to put it right down the line. I’ve seen that happen many times where they just let it roll and roll and it stays fair. That’s a big part of our game.”
The execution of the bunts paid off when Whitman drove a two-strike pitch over the center fielder’s head to score Manipon and McMahon.
Lynnwood added two more runs in the inning — one on a sacrifice-fly by Lucas Jungmann and Whitman scored the other on a wild pitch by McKisson.
Shorewood entered Tuesday’s game one game ahead of Lynnwood in the Wesco 3A South standings. The two teams are now tied for first place and meet again on Wednesday and Friday. The winner of the series will be in the driver’s seat for the league championship.
“We all knew that the league title was on the line,” Dizard said. “I’ve been telling my guys since Saturday that whoever wins this series is most likely going to win the league. We had our number one (pitcher) going and they had their number one guy going and it was a battle. That was fun, but that was huge because (Oxnevad) been pretty much unbeatable all year. To steal a win off of him is huge for us.”
In eight innings, Oxnevad gave up five hits and struck out 15.
“What more can you ask for from a kid?” Tonkin said. “He threw eight innings and we can’t get the poor kid a run, but he’s a horse. He would’ve went five more innings if I would have asked him, but he’s got a big career ahead of him.”
As he has for most of the season, Oxnevad, who has committed to play at Oregon State, pitched with more than a dozen major-league scouts in attendance.
Whitman didn’t have the strikeout numbers Oxnevad had, finishing with seven, but he was just as effective, giving up just two hits
“I started out the game and I was a little bit nervous, but as the game went on I got more comfortable on the mound,” Whitman said. “Whenever I would miss my spots the catcher would come out and talk to me and I would go back and feel more comfortable on the mound and I started throwing more strikes.”
Whitman’s performance earned high praise from the opposing coach.
“He’s the best pitcher we’ve seen all year, without a doubt,” Tonkin said. “He mixed it up well and had us off balance. He just threw a great quality game.”
Winning the first game of the three-game series and doing it in a game started by Oxnevad has the Royals confidence high going into the next two games against the Thunderbirds.
“It takes a lot of pressure off,” Whitman said. “Beating them at their home field with their ace on the mound takes a lot of pressure off for (Wednesday) and Friday. We’ll be more comfortable playing against them.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on Twitter at @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Meridian Park
Lynnwood 000 000 004 — 4 8 1
Shorewood 000 000 000 — 0 6 1
Jared Whitman, Lucas Jungmann (8) and Brady Girgus. Ian Oxnevad, Cole McKisson (9) and Nick Edney. WP—Jungmann. LP—McKisson. 2B—Chase Hacker (L), Jared Whitman (L). Records—Lynnwood 11-3 league, 12-4 overall. Shorewood 11-3, 13-3.