Skyview beats Heritage for place in 4A final four

Storm claims GSHL battle for baseball regional crown

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 

TACOMA — There have been a lot of excellent baseball players at Skyview High School through the years.

Not one of them ever played in the state's final four, though.

The 2013 Storm will.

"We're a talented team, but we're a well-rounded team. That's what made us go this far," junior Brooks Hanson said.

"Skyview baseball finally got the breaks today," added junior Alec Chaney. "We're finally going to be appreciated for our talent."

Maybe the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League will get some love, too.

The Storm (20-6) beat league rival Heritage 6-4 Saturday evening at Heidelberg Park in the finals of the Class 4A Tacoma Regional, qualifying for next week's final four in Pasco.

Skyview took care of Gonzaga Prep, ranked second in the state, earlier in the day, and then Heritage stopped top-ranked Puyuallp, setting up a league showdown with only one survivor.

Chaney drove in three runs, Hanson got out of a jam in the sixth inning then saved the game in the seventh, and Mav Yamaguchi pitched into the sixth to pick up the win for the Storm.

"It's hard to describe. I just know how much it means to the seniors," Hanson said after getting a strikeout to close the game.

"I've never been more proud of my team," Chaney said. "This is the best we've played all year."

For Heritage (17-11), it was a tough loss but a season worthy of pride.

"We knew we had the ability to get to this point," Heritage coach Mitch Ratigan said. "It just so happened we had to play them here."

Them would be the Storm, and the Timberwolves have to be sick of them by now.

Saturday's win gave Skyview a 5-0 record against Heritage this season — three in league play, one at district, and then in the elite eight at state.

"Nothing but great things to say about Heritage," Skyview coach Eric Estes said.

He added that Skyview's historic season can be attributed to the fact that the league was stronger this season. Skyview won the league last year but lost in the state round of 16.

"We were more prepared this year because we played tougher teams," Estes said.

The Storm will take this weekend to celebrate, then focus on next weekend.

"I'm just going to take it all it, and we'll keep playing like we have," said senior Ian Hamilton, who pitched a gem to beat Gonzaga Prep.

Against Heritage, the Storm remained disciplined, earning 12 walks. The Storm, with just four hits in the game, scored in each of the first five innings.

The Timberwolves kept things close. The game was tied at 3 after Cole Foley and Jared Luedecker drove in runs for Heritage in the top of the third.

Chaney responded in the bottom of the inning, hitting a sacrifice fly to restore some order for the Storm.

"Right when we broke the tie, it reassured what we were already thinking," Hanson said.

This was their day.

Chaney struck again in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out, two-run double to make it 6-3.

Alex Smith would drive in a run for Heritage in the sixth, but the Timberwolves went down in order in the seventh, with Hanson striking out the final two batters.

"Going into the day, we all felt the odds were kind of against us," Chaney said, noting the rankings of the other two teams in the Tacoma Region. "We just came through. The confidence was always there, though. Personally, I didn't doubt we could come out on top today."

"Pretty happy about my dudes here," Estes said. "They battled, they battled, and put themselves in crucial situations. We did it when we needed to."

The Timberwolves reached the elite eight for the second time in school history.

"This team leaves a nice legacy for our program moving forward," Ratigan said. "The excitement they generated for the school is awesome."

Skyview's buzz will continue for two more games as the Storm chase a state championship.

Note: Click the hotlinks for recaps of Skyview's win over Gonzaga Prep and Heritage's win over Puyallup, which are posted the high school sports blog at 360preps.com.