SHN Big League
By Ed Shepherd
REDMOND--Steady did it.
District 7's South Highline National pitcher, Ryan Macri, pitched strongly throughout the game, and his team hit and scored consistently in an 8-4 win over District 8 (Shoreline-Ballard) at the Big League All Stars Baseball State Tournament Wednesday.
Now it's time to go to the championship game for South Highline National.
They must beat District 9 (Kirkland-Redmond area) twice to win the championship and go on to regionals against seven other states' Big League champions that starts in Bremerton later this month.
It's a tall order, but steady, consistent play, a little more hitting than happened in it's 2-1 loss to District 9 the first game played on Tuesday will help too. Four hits for each team that game.
But Macri, who threw an economical 94 pitches in seven innings against District 8, says that his team can do it if they show up and play National ball.
"We just have to play a solid game and we will win," said Macri.
Steady does it.
The game against District 8 was not without its share of nice plays but sharing that spotlight, unfortunately, was something else as well.
"Too many errors," said Macri, who struck out six batters and only walked two in his complete game performance.
While National took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a leadoff Tommy Gracey walk, a Sam Maitland double and Brandon Scott 2-RBI single, District 8, in its top of the second, was getting its two runs unearned. Two batters Macri induced into pop outs reached base when the balls were dropped. Then runs scored on a hit after that, but the outs should have been recorded earlier.
So that meant that the score should have been 2-0, National leading. Good thing that National got its bats going to break the 2-2 tie through two innings of play..
In the bottom of the third inning, Macri drew a walk, as did Matt Forbes. Also, Andrew Stanton reached base after an alert play of hustling to the bag after the catcher dropped the third strike, so it was bases loaded.
Up to the plate stepped Jorge Esqueda and he ripped the ball into the outfield for a 2-RBI single to make it 4-2.
National's catcher Robby Piovesan, who plays strong with the mitt behind the plate, not letting balls go by him, was kidding around with Esqueda after the game.
"Jorge, did you eat your Wheaties, or, what was it today," said Piovesan, smiling. "Two clutch hits."
More offense came for National, steadily putting the vice on District 8, scoring another run in the bottom of the fourth on a nice hustle play from Maitland hitting an infield grounder but beating the throw to first base. Then, Maitland stole second and, on a third base steal, the ball was overthrown into left field by the District 8 catcher and Maitland went home to make it 5-2.
Then, in the bottom of the fifth inning, Andrew Stanton, was hit by a pitch and stole second base and third base on a close throw that the bag went flying, as, Stanton said, "I slid a little late, but I got under the tag," as that's all that counts, that latter part. And, that good bit of baserunning set up nicely for Esqueda to hit the ball to right-center field for an RBI single, scoring Stanton to make it 6-2.
"Yeah, I ate my Wheaties," said Esqueda, answering that question poised by Piovesan. "I've been struggling the last two games. It's a good feeling to help our team win."
"He was on," said manager Kathy Macri. "He seems to come through in the clutch."
"Jorgee clutched up today," said Maitland.
Cheers from the dugout came to him, too, as he came off the field for the pinch runner.
"Hey-hey, Jorge," they cheered. "Hey-hey, Jorge."
Then, consistently putting runs on the board in almost all the innings, National tacked on two more runs in the same fifth bottom half when Gracey did a nice piece of hitting. He hit a ball high and deep enough to the outfield that a runner scored and one more run in the inning crossed home plate, special pinch runner Jason Bonham, for Esqueda, stealing home as the ball eluded the catcher to make it 8-2.
National outhit District 8, 7-6.
Macri's pitching effort helped this team out as its going to need to have some fresh arms for a rematch with District 9. That will include a second game if they hope to win the championship, as aforementioned.
"Pretty much what the team needed," said Macri. "We have two games tomorrow so it's good to save some arms."
Manager Kathy Macri liked her son's effort.
"It was awesome," she said. "He stayed consistent. Only two innings they scored. Ryan pitched with a level head."
Errors can frustrate a pitcher and Macri just didn't let those kinds of things bring him down to a level that would hurt his pitching, and also his team.
And, one of those innings that District 8 scored, as Macri said above, those runs were both unearned. Ryan Macri was really on, throwing a shutout for all practical purposes until the top of the seventh for District 8 when they scored two inconsequential runs for the final 8-4 tally.
There was one or two close plays in this game that District 8 could have scored a run but Piovesan made some nice plays at catcher, including one runner coming in to score in the top of the fifth inning after a leadoff triple. But, on the play, Cody Jones, who fielded the ball at first base, threw to home and Piovesan did the rest.
"I just grazed the top of his foot," said Piovesan.
He explains how his catcher's mitt is like glue back there most often.
"I take infield with a catcher's glove, like, play shortstop or second base," said Piovesan. "I take grounds balls, short hops."
And that was the kind of throw, a skipping short hop, that Piovesan fielded from Jones before pivoting his body around and sweeping in to the runner silding into home that would have made it 8-3 and given District 8, potentially, some momentum.
Macri was tough from Piovesan's point of view and his view is very good, being the catcher that Macri throws to.
"Ryan was on," said Piovesan. "He had a curve and fastball and speed change in between. He mixed it up enough to keep them guessing."
So, the one-run loss to District 9 is behind them with this big, nice run production game, and only two more to go until championship status is made.
"Tough loss yesterday to District 9, but we are coming back," said manager Macri, whose team matched the foe with four hits and Darren Peterson pitched strong for six innings and Ryan Macri, one.
The one run of offense came from Maitland's single, and Peterson's RBI single.
"And we are going to do it," she said.