Mercer Island baseball starts state tournament Saturday

Bellevue pushed Mercer Island as far as it could, but in the end the Islanders prevailed to earn the No. 2 seed from District 2 going into the state baseball tournament, which starts Saturday.

The Islanders beat Bellevue in the KingCo tournament championship game last Friday night, 4-3, in eight innings.

“I think we tried to keep the focus of the team simple and stick to what we’ve been successful with all year,” said head coach Cory Smith. “Discipline at the plate, challenge hitters on the mount and make the routine play. We know that tournament time is a new season and whoever is playing well can upset anyone, just like last year.”

The Islanders scored first, earning one run in the second inning, but Bellevue tied things up with a run of their own in the top of the third inning. In the top of the fourth, Bellevue took control, eventually holding a 3-1 lead until the Islanders tied things again in the bottom of the fifth.

The score would remain tied for the next three innings, until the bottom of the eighth when Mike Potoshnik hit a double to left field to start the batting rotation. With Cameron Ogard at bat, Potoshnik made it to third base and, off a wild pitch, made it home to give the Islanders the final win.

“Pitching was the key on Friday night,” said the coach. “We know George Jiranek is going to keep games close and give our offense a chance to put up some numbers. He scattered eight hits over five innings, giving up only three runs. We also made some great defensive plays behind him to keep Bellevue at three runs.”

Smith said despite the early three runs by Bellevue that put Mercer Island in a deficit at the beginning of the game, the team stayed calm, and found its way back in.

Mercer Island’s first state game will be Saturday, May 22, at 1 p.m. at Wheeler Field in Centralia against the No. 7 team out of Districts 3/4.

“We just need to be ready to play on Saturday,” said Smith. “We’ll try and get to the yard a little early to stretch out the legs and adjust, but from here on out, it’s one thing at a time.”

Last Thursday the Islanders started their postseason run with a game against Sammamish in the second round of the KingCo tournament. The Islanders beat Sammamish on Thursday afternoon, 10-0, in five innings.

Mercer Island quickly gained the upper hand over Sammamish as starting pitcher Max Dammeier kept the Totems from advancing past second base during the first inning, before Evan Thompson scored the first run for the Islanders in the bottom of the first.

The Islanders kept the runs coming, scoring eight in the bottom of the third off a home run from Kirby Ingram when the bases were loaded to take the game to a 9-0 lead.

In the top of the third the Islanders completed a double play with Sammamish’s Paul Heywood on second and Craig Sweet on first to earn two outs. Dammeier struck out two batters in the top of the fourth and another was caught at first base to give the Islanders another chance at bat. Sammamish swapped pitchers, but it couldn’t keep Mercer Island senior Willy Reel from slamming a home run in the bottom of the fourth for the Islanders last run of the game.

Sammamish had their best chance to score in the top of the fifth, when senior Brett Berkey hit a long drive, making it to second, followed by senior Rick Teegarden getting to first base. But after two more batters, with Sammamish’s Aaron Lawrenson’s fly ball caught by Ingram at second base and Chris Strain’s hit to center field was caught the game ended.

Mercer Island had no errors during the game. Ingram was 3 for 3 at bat with two hits, three RBI and a home run, Jordan Richartz was 1 for 1 and Thompson was 1 for 2 with a double.

The Islanders are 17-6 overall this season.

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