It’s been a trying first season for Stadium baseball coach Barry Fretwell. But with their backs to the wall in a must-win situation, the Tigers beat the Bellarmine Prep Lions 9-4 on April 26 at Heidelberg Park.
Leading the way for Stadium was senior right-hander Ryder Destunder, who gave up only two earned runs and scattered seven hits in a complete-game effort.
“You never know after yesterday (a 10-1 loss at last-place Yelm),” said Fretwell of his hard-to-figure-out Tigers. “We’ve been up and down all year.”
Destunder, who has carried the load for Stadium for most of the year, talked about his outing on this day. “I had my best breaking stuff that I had all year today,” he said. “It was a huge win for us.”
Bellarmine broke on top with a run in each of the first two innings, but also stranded four runners. Trailing 2-1 entering the bottom of the third, Stadium would take the lead for good on a sacrifice fly by Darius Cook to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead. The Tigers would ice it in the sixth with a three-run outburst, with the big blow being a solo home run to right center field by Jake Vieth.
But needing another win against Gig Harbor on April 29 to advance to the league tournament, Tides starter Nick Gagliardi would limit Stadium to just four hits as the Tigers fell by a score of 2-1 to end their postseason chances.
“We’ll learn a lot from this, this was a real tough one to lose,” said Fretwell, as the Tigers look forward to next season. But they’ll also look back on missed opportunities in this game.
Vieth stood tall all afternoon on the mound for Stadium, matching Gagliardi pitch for pitch. The junior left-hander would strike out four through six innings, but Vieth would commit a costly error in the seventh that proved huge. After Gallinger singled to lead off the inning, Vieth threw wide in an errant pickoff attempt to help Gallinger race around to third base. Gallinger would later score on an error by Tiger shortstop Brannon Ronia, and the Tides would took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh. But Ronia lined a single to left to score Matt Gunn and cut the Gig Harbor lead to 2-1 in the bottom half, and after a walk and an infield error the bases were loaded. But Jake Hinkle would ground back to the mound to end the Tigers’ season.
“Jake (Vieth) hit his locations all afternoon,” Fretwell said. “He had good stuff, including a great curveball that we have been working on all year.”
In looking forward to next season, Fretwell will have to answer the question of who will take over the role of ace of the staff, occupied the past few seasons by Destunder. “That question will be answered early in tryouts next spring, and with the effort by Jake today it could be his in 2014.”