Warriors earn their first series sweep of season | Baseball
Last updated 4/25/2019 at Noon
The one-two punch of Ian Michael and Thomas Blahous powered Edmonds-Woodway to its first series sweep of the season.
Michael allowed four hits and struck out seven batters in a complete-game performance to lead the Warriors to a 5-3 victory over district rival Meadowdale in a Wesco 3A baseball game Tuesday, April 16. Blahous surrendered only one hit and struck out 11 in six innings of work to help the Warriors dispatch the Mavericks 5-3 Wednesday, April 17, at Meadowdale High School.
“Two wins against Meadowdale are huge,” Michael said. “I think this is really good for us. Hopefully, we can build on this and go on a roll.”
The Warriors (6-3 in the league, 8-7 overall) split their first three league series against Archbishop Murphy, Cedarcrest and Shorewood.
The seeding for the district playoffs will be determined by a RPI (Rating Percentage Index) rather than the league standings. Wins against 3A teams are given a higher weight than those against 2A schools Archbishop Murphy, Cedarcrest and Mountlake Terrace.
The most recent RPI has Edmonds-Woodway in second place with an RPI score of 0.7833, while Meadowdale (7-3, 9-7) is fifth with 0.5500. The top five teams advance to districts.
“It (series sweep) was really important for us,” Edmonds-Woodway coach Dan Somoza said. “Every game in this conference is a grind. There’s nobody who’s above everyone else, so it’s going to be close every single game. I don’t quite understand everything with the RPI. But every game you can win is very important.”
The Warriors likely have to have more if Michael and Blahous continue to dominate on the mound.
“I have the utmost confidence in them,” Somoza said “I feel like they are two of the best around and they’ll compete with anybody.”
Michael kept his pitches in the zone and relied on his defense to come up big, especially in the first two innings.
“We had two huge double plays in the first and second innings,” he said. “Tommy (Oda) and Remy (Heckman) turned them.”
Oda had two RBI and senior Tai Starchman drove in a run and scored two runs.
Even though he struck out the side in the first inning, Blahous said that he didn’t feel like he was in command of his pitches.
“I didn’t have the best stuff coming out of the gate,” he said. “But I battled and battled. I just was not really locked in the way you need to be locked in. I still got the job done.”
Blahous relied on his curveball against the Mavericks, who he said was a team that hits the fastball well.
“I leaned on the curveball and that definitely helped me,” Blahous said.
In his last 13 innings, teams have mustered only one hit against Blahous.
Edmonds-Woodway cashed in on a pair of Meadowdale errors in the top of the first to take a 1-0 lead. In the third, Blahous helped himself with an RBI single to left field that scored Michael, who had singled to center field and stole second base.
The Warriors tacked on two more runs in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Karsen Tjarneberg and a double by Heckman. Edmonds-Woodway then manufactured another run in the seventh when Dominic Farley drew a lead-off walk. He then stole second, advanced to third on a bunt by Read Carr and scored on a passed ball.
Somoza like the way the Warriors went about producing runs.
“We were aggressive on the bases, got to second base a few times with steals,” he said. “The name of the game is about scoring runs. We didn’t have a lot of hits. We did enough to scratch out five runs. You keep adding on and adding on is so important.”
Blahous was lifted in the seventh after issuing back-to-back walks. Oda didn’t fare much better, walking the first batter to load the bases. He then recorded the first out on a fly ball to the outfield. But Oda then hit the next two batters to force in two runs. Carr then came in and recorded the second out on an infield grounder that scored another Meadowdale run before issuing a walk. The Mavericks then hit another fly ball to center field to end the game.
Somoza saw a lack of focus from the Warriors’ pitchers in the seventh. Edmonds-Woodway’s three pitchers walked four and hit two batters. “Our guys pitched tentatively,” he said. “That’s not the way we’re supposed to play. We’re supposed to paly aggressively on the mound, on the field, hitting, fielding, running, whatever. We didn’t do that the last inning. We made it close.”
Michael noted that the Warriors played without starting third baseman Gunner Whitelaw, who turned his ankle during warmups and did not play. Carr filled in for him at third base.
Meadowdale coach Bill Hummel was pleased by how hard the Mavericks competed and by starters Casey Toler (Tuesday) and Luke Hunnewell (Wednesday), along with relievers Parker Cumberland and Cutter Buchea.
“They (Warriors) pitched better,” Hummel said. “We talk about what we did compared to what they did. For the most part they played better than we did. They made fewer mistakes. They got more baserunners and stole more bags and got more bunts down. They were just a little bit better. Our inexperience showed a little bit.”
Hummel noted that the five outs Meadowdale gave Edmonds-Woodway in the first inning resulted in one run. A leadoff walk in the fourth led to another run and the Warriors scored one more run in the seventh without the benefit of a hit.
“These are just little things we need to clean up if we’re going to beat baseball teams that are going to the playoffs,” Hummel said. “That’s all we’re going to see from here on out.”
The series with Edmonds-Woodway is a preview of what the district playoffs are going to be like, Hummel added.
“These are the kinds of teams you’ve got to beat,” he said.
The Mavericks wrap up the regular season against Shorewood (April 29-30), one of the teams battling for the fifth district berth.
“We can still play our way into the playoffs,” Hummel said. “We’re very happy with where we’re at.”
Somoza also likes the way the Warriors came out against their archrivals.
“We’re starting to play better, more as a team,” he said. “They’re playing with more energy and more confidence. We’re starting to do the little things bunting, stealing the little things that add up and make a team great.”
Blahous is looking forward to the next few weeks.
“We’re going to do some really big things pretty soon,” he said.