South Whidbey baseball collected 11 runs on 10 hits in a pair of elimination games in the 1A bi-district tournament Saturday to punch their ticket to the state championship.
The Falcons played good enough to edge out University Prep 8-3 in the first round, then kept Cedar Park Christian in check for a 3-1 victory that sent South Whidbey onward and ended the Eagles’ season.
“We rushed the field,” Falcon head coach Tom Fallon said in a phone interview Monday. “It’s very satisfying to be a public school and compete against these private schools like we do.”
In a win-or-go-home game against a familiar foe, South Whidbey made the most of its opportunities. Against fellow Cascade Conference team Cedar Park Christian, South Whidbey scored three runs on four hits and held the Eagles to just one run on eight hits.
“I’ll take my best nine against anybody’s best nine, any day,” Fallon said.
From the first inning, South Whidbey (8-9 Cascade Conference, 12-12 overall) held the lead. Falcon junior leadoff batter Ricky Muzzy hit a single and was scored on a RBI single by sophomore Connor Antich.
Cedar Park got two runners on base in the following frame, but a grounder to second baseman Antich was flipped to Muzzy for the double play throw to first base.
Muzzy brought sophomore Will Simms in with a grounder up the middle in the second inning to extend the lead.
Cedar Park again got a pair of runners on base in the third inning, but they were stranded by South Whidbey’s defense and starting pitcher Mo Hamsa.
From there, the defense held together and only allowed a run in the fifth. Hamsa gave up four hits in a row for the Eagles’ first score with only one out.
Fallon relieved him from the mound and put in Muzzy to close out the contest. Muzzy struck out the first batter he faced and got the next to fly out, stranding three Eagle batters on base.
“I was nervous the whole game,” Fallon said. “It was a very tight game.”
Hamsa later scored Muzzy on a hit to right field in the sixth for the Falcons’ final run.
Earlier in the day against University Prep, Simms pitched a complete game as South Whidbey rebounded from an early 1-0 deficit.
A few scores by Falcons Brent Piehler and Charlie Patterson put them ahead for the rest of the game.
University Prep came close in the second inning with another run, but Simms and the Falcon fielders stranded a couple of runners to keep their lead.
South Whidbey jumped further ahead on a two RBI triple. Muzzy, who went 2-for-2 at the plate with a pair of walks, knocked the ball to deep right-center field and wheeled himself around the bases. His shot scored Austin Sterba and Campbell Albertsen, who reached base on three walks and scored a run, and seemed to put the game out of reach for University Prep.
A series of singles in the fifth inning padded South Whidbey’s lead, which was needed as University Prep scored another run in the bottom of the inning.
The Prep Pumas loaded the bases in the seventh inning with only one out, but Simms got consecutive batters to fly out in the infield to close out the contest and send his team on to the winner-to-state contest against Cedar Park Christian (10-7 Cascade Conference, 14-10 overall).
“We continued to work out of trouble,” Fallon said. “We get runners on, we don’t panic. Our pitchers make pitches when they need to.”
In the final inning, Muzzy got two batters to fly out to the outfield and the third to ground out to shortstop.
South Whidbey plays Seattle Christian at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 23 in Anacortes for the first round of the state 1A baseball tournament. The loser is eliminated and the winner advances to play later that day.