When the Peninsula High School baseball team is healthy, they're dangerous. Unfortunately for the inexperienced Seahawks (5-12 overall, 5-9 SPSL 3A), injuries have crippled the team's ability to be competitive early in the season. But with their 11-1 victory over Lakes (1-14 overall, 0-12 SPSL 3A) on Tuesday, which was called after five innings due to the 10 run mercy rule, the Seahawks have now won three games in a row, including two walkoffs, and they're beginning to hit their stride.
“I feel good for the kids,” said Peninsula head coach Pete Weymiller. “We've had a lot of adversity at the beginning with all the injuries we had. I think this group is closer than most of the groups that I've coached in 30 years. The thing is, they keep working. These guys have got character. To have the losses we've had and still maintain the work habits and still have the hunger and the drive and the passion to win, is just a reflection of their character.”
Senior Bryce Gourley pitched three efficient innings for the Seahawks, allowing no earned runs and striking out six. The Seahawks piled on runs early and often, culminating in an eight-run fourth inning which essentially put the game out of reach for the Lancers.
Peninsula junior left fielder Hayden Skidmore, who was playing his second game back after battling injuries all season, hit a solo homerun over the left field fence in the second, and nearly hit another one in the fourth, which come up just short and bounced over the wall for an RBI ground-rule double. Skidmore relished the chance to shine after being sidelined by an ongoing back injury. During his homerun at bat, he took the first pitch—but he wasn't going to let the second pitch go by.
“Just seeing it come in, it was just frozen there in time,” Skidmore said of the homerun pitch. “It just sat there, I just gave it my all and just went with it and took it out. It was pretty exciting.”
Skidmore noticed the wind coming in toward home plate during his second at bat, which would make a second homerun unlikely, although he nearly knocked another out, anyway.
“I'm kind of a little disappointed by that, because there wasn't much velocity from the pitcher,” Skidmore said. “As I made contact with the ball, I was about 50-50 with it, believing it had a chance to go over. I'm a little disappointed it didn't, but I was still helping the team out, bringing some runs in.”
Junior Robert Kvinsland took a four-pitch walk with the bases loaded in the fourth to take a 8-1 lead, and then Zachary Ringer hit a bases loaded single to extend the lead to 10-1. Weymiller was pleased with his team's composure despite playing the last-place team.
“We're expecting to beat a team like this,” Weymiller said. “It gets kind of scary, because our guys kind of get relaxed and stuff. It's really hard to stay focused. It takes a special discipline, but they did a pretty good job.”
Hard-throwing senior Julian Archuleta closed out the game for the Seahawks, striking out two in the fifth inning. Archuleta will be playing at Tacoma Community College next season.
“We really want Julian to excel, so we're looking for opportunities to put him out there and have him develop his control,” Weymiller said. “And today was a great opportunity for that. So we're hoping he has that confidence. He's got the potential. He can throw in the 90's. He just hasn't got a lot of time, because he's working on his control.”
Skidmore hopes the team's recent success means they've turned the corner.
“At first, we just kind of struggled with a little communication going on, we're just figuring out what's going on,” Skidmore said. “As the season has been going on, we've just been becoming more like brothers. As we got to this point, we've just been playing great as a team. We're just all in now. It's definitely our turning point right now, and we've got all our injured players back in the game. We're ready to go.”
Weymiller, who has been forced to make difficult lineup decisions throughout the year, said the rocky start affected the team's confidence, but he admired the way they have battled back.
“These guys still hung together and they still believe they can win,” Weymiller said. “These guys believe, which is a testament to their character, their resolve and their resilience. They're just great kids.”
Sports reporter Jon Manley can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_jon.