Despite loss, Pirates make deep run in district tournament

The Pirates played well and didn’t give the game away with errors, but their hits found gloves and the Vikings’ hits found grass.

Pirates varsity baseball started off the Nisqually League District Tournament with a resounding win over Seattle Christian on May 8.

The Pirates put up 14 runs, led by Chase Bradrick, who went three-for-three, with two doubles and a triple for three RBIs. Will Frith also had three RBIs, and Will Weber added two on three hits. The home game was over in the fifth inning with a mercy rule score of 14-1, securing the first win of the tournament.

The remaining games were at Foss High School in Tacoma. Next up was Bellevue Christian, on May 10.

The Vikings started their ace pitcher Taylor Franklin, but Vashon jumped on him early in the first as Finn Magonegil singled, Maxwell Delgado-Williams walked, and Weber brought them both in with a line drive to left, to put up two runs.

But Franklin kept the Pirates off the bases with only three more hits for the rest of the game.

Vashon pitched by committee, to keep arms fresh for the next tournament games, and Charlie Walker, Finn Hawkins, Jack Harvey, Frith and Bradrick collectively gave up only three hits, but walks and errors would keep a win out of reach, and the Pirates lost the 6-2 game.

The tournament rules required players to wear plastic cleats (molds) on their turf field, yet the mound at Foss is dirt, which caused pitchers on both teams to slip and struggle, as they normally play in metal spikes on dirt.

“We didn’t play our best ball, and that mound situation was a drastic adjustment we could have better prepared for,” said Coach Simon Perrin. The following day, all the Vashon pitchers practiced at home field in their plastic cleats on the dirt mound.

The third game against Cascade Christian, on May 12, proved to be the most exciting. This win-or-go-home contest started with Walker on the mound for Vashon. The Cougars struck first with a run in the second. Vashon responded in the bottom of the frame as Frith was hit by a pitch, Hawkins singled, Harvey drove in Frith, and Bradrick drove in Hawkins to go up 2-1. Both teams added a run in the third inning, and Vashon scored another in the fourth inning.

The back-and-forth affair came to a head in the fifth inning, when the Cougars scored again and cut the Pirates’ lead to 4-3. Walker had a gritty, effective pitching performance for Vashon, and with bases loaded and two outs, he was relieved by Frith, hoping to maintain the one-run lead.

After two foul balls built the tension on both sides of the bleachers, and with runners taking huge, two-out leads at every base, Frith got the batter to chase a high fastball for a strikeout, and the Pirates celebrated back to the dugout.

Delgado-Williams doubled off a Cougar base runner with a strong throw to first after his catch in center field to end the top of the sixth inning. A surprise bunt by Frith, and heads-up base running from Walker on a throwing error, brought in another run for Vashon. Frith completed the save with an infield pop-up, a strikeout, and an amazing, diving, foul ball catch by right fielder Sebastian Gallez. The Pirates survived to play again the next day, with a 5-3 win.

“For Will to come in and hold it in the fifth, that was big for us. We played some of our best team baseball,” Perrin said. “Our boys are good in close games, always believing they can win.”

The fourth and final game of districts promised the winner a trip to the state tournament.

Once again, the Pirates would clash with the Vikings from Bellevue Christian. And déjà vu: there was Taylor Franklin on the mound, once again, for Bellevue.

The Pirates played well and didn’t give the game away with errors, but their hits found gloves and the Vikings’ hits found grass. That’s baseball.

The Viking won 6-1, and the Pirates ended the season with a record of 12 wins and eight losses.

“We played good baseball, but you can do that and still lose a game,” Perrin said. “[I am], and the whole coaching staff are very proud of our boys. We are tough on them in this short season, practicing six days a week for two to four hours a day. But they want it — they want to get better, they’ve gotten better, and I have no doubt they will be even better next year. I’m really looking forward to it.”