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Mercer Island state run ends against Columbia River | State baseball

Mercer Island’s Kirby Ingram throws the ball to first base after getting a Sumner batter out. The Islanders won their first state game, 9-2. - David Ogard/Contributed photo
Mercer Island’s Kirby Ingram throws the ball to first base after getting a Sumner batter out. The Islanders won their first state game, 9-2.
— image credit: David Ogard/Contributed photo

It was a record-breaking season for the Islanders baseball team. The co-KingCo champions and KingCo Conference Tournament winners fell in the second round of the state tournament to Columbia River, 8-6.

While the team was disappointed to end the season before getting to play closer to home at Safeco Field, head coach Cory Smith said the team was happy with their season overall.

“We were happy with our run,” said Smith. “We’re definitely the best high school [baseball] team at Mercer Island.”

Mercer Island traveled to Centralia last Saturday for what would be the first of two state games. The first was against Sumner. The Islanders beat the Spartans in the first round 9-2 and advanced to play Columbia River later in the evening.

“Max Dammier pitched really well,” said Smith of the first game. “He’s just a sophomore so we’re excited to have two more years with him. He’s got a live arm and in the second half the season really found his command and control.”

Smith said as a team they were where they had been all year, seeing the ball well and going to the plate with a plan and executing that plan.

“The first game was a great team effort,” said Smith. Only hours later the team took on Columbia River, and Smith said for whatever reason, be it the long trip south, having already played one full game or whatever it was, the team’s spark wasn’t there. The Islanders fell 8-6 to end the season.

“It was a combination of things,” he said. “I was really proud of the way the kids battle through.” The Islanders fell into a hole quickly, but found momentum later in the game to put the pressure on Colubmia River, but it wasn’t enough to regain the upper hand.

“It adds a little more pressure and their pitcher struggled to throw strikes,” said Smith of the second game. “You can give yourself a chance and that’s all you can ask. No one on that bus ride home felt like we were over matched, we all felt like we could have won that game. I was sad for our four seniors, I would have liked to see them play longer.”

But overall Smith said the most important thing is now the team, which previously had never made it this far, knows what it is like to win.

“They got a taste of the state playoffs,” he said. One of the program’s biggest goals going into this season was to make sure players wouldn’t get down on themselves after losing close battles.

“In the past kids have had a tendency to give up a little, and we wanted to nip that in the bud early one. It’s a good group of sophomores and juniors and we’re excited for next year.”

The team finished with an 18-7 overall record.

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