Stanwood reliever TJ McQuery gives up a hit to Juan Hernandez-Mendoza during a playoff loss to Kentlake on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, at Kent Meridian High School in Kent, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Stanwood reliever TJ McQuery gives up a hit to Juan Hernandez-Mendoza during a playoff loss to Kentlake on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, at Kent Meridian High School in Kent, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Stanwood baseball’s bats go quiet in state loss to Kentlake

The Spartans manage just three hits as their season ends with a 5-0 loss to the Falcons.

KENT — The Stanwood High School baseball team was in catch-up mode over the duration of Tuesday’s state opening-round tilt against Kentlake.

The 19th-seeded Spartans gave up a three-score inning in the top of the first to the No. 14 Falcons, eventually falling 5-0 in a Class 3A state opening round, loser-out contest at Kent-Meridian High School.

Stanwood (14-10), which was competing in its fourth state tournament game in program history and second since 1998, couldn’t get it rolling from behind the plate after a costly defensive opening frame.

Kentlake’s sophomore right-hander Christopher Moore gave the Stanwood batters a slew of issues, allowing just three hits in a start while striking out 12 with one walk across six innings.

“These guys fought till the end,” Spartans coach Matt Brennan said. “Moore was a really good pitcher today, he was tough. We just went up there with the same plate approach we’ve been having and they gave us everything we asked for.”

Spartans senior Ryan Cheeseman lasted just 1/3 of an inning in a start on the mound, allowing three hits, three runs (two earned) and two walks before TJ McQuery took over the rest of the way.

McQuery kept Stanwood within striking distance for as long as he could, tallying eight strikeouts with four walks, allowing one earned run in 5 2/3 innings of relief, but the Spartans bats never warmed up.

“You have to have such a short leash at this time of the year,” Brennan said. “I hated to take Ryan out, but you have to go with your gut (and) TJ is a kid that’s been starting a lot for us lately. … We made them beat us with their bats, and they did. I feel like we played good defense and did everything we could, we just couldn’t tick away at them at the plate.”

Stanwood registered just one hit outside of leadoff hitter Braedon Requa (2-for-3), while Falcons second baseman Matthew Ledbetter went to work with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate.

After capturing their first ever state tournament victory in 2022, the Spartans found themselves vying for their second state win this spring. After falling one win shy of a state berth in 2023, Brennan credited his seniors for spearheading the program’s recent turnaround.

“I think we’ve established that we’re not just a flash in the pan,” Brennan said. “I think we’re more-than-relevant moving forward. … We’ve got younger kids in our program that have looked up to these guys and coaches that are getting guys ready for us. So, I think you’ll see a lot of Stanwood in the next couple years.”

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