BY GRANT CLARK
Spenser Dorsey charged home.
Sumner catcher Bryan Adkins played the pass ball perfectly off the backstop, securing it in his glove and diving to home plate.
Dorsey, the North Thurston senior, adjusted his head-first slide, twisting slightly in an attempt to avoid Adkins’ tag.
A cloud of dust materialized. It was close. Dorsey, with his right hand still on home plate, and Adkins, with his glove resting atop Dorsey’s arm, both turned to the umpire.
Adkins leaped to his feet as the Spartans began their celebration, a 5-4 victory over the Rams in the Class 2A state quarterfinals Saturday at W.F. West High School.
“It’s a tough way to lose,” North Thurston coach Lance Baker said. “You have the tying run 90 feet away, a close play at the plate with the winner moving on to the semifinals. You really can’t ask for much more.”
Sumner, champions of the South Puget Sound 2A, advance to the state semifinals for the first time in school history.
The Spartans will play Lynden, a 1-0 winner over W.F. West in the quarterfinals, in one semifinals matchup 7 p.m. Saturday at County Stadium in Yakima. East Valley (Yakima) and Archbishop Murphy play in the other semifinal at 4 p.m.
“This team has just been resilient all season,” said Sumner coach Casey Adcox, whose squad defeated Aberdeen, 1-0, in the first round. “We play four sophomores and two freshmen. It’s been a roller coaster and we’ve had our ups and downs, but this team has continued to improve all season long. That’s a very good North Thurston team we played today.”
North Thurston, which was on the winning end of a similar game-ending play at the plate to defeat W.F. West, 5-4, to win its first district championship in 10 years last week, concludes its season with a record of 17-8.
“This has just been an incredible group to coach,” Baker said. “The seniors took it upon themselves since day one to lead this team and just did a remarkable job. We were 7-13 last year with the same exact group and took our lump and to be this close to reaching the state semifinals the next year says a lot about this group.”
The Rams led 3-0 after four innings – getting a RBI from Ben Reece in the third and a two-run single from Tyler Ridgeway in the fourth.
North Thurston sophomore Ryan Mets finished with 10 strikeouts, fanning the first five batters he faced.
Sumner scored four runs in the fifth – three coming with two outs – with Adkins getting the Spartans on the scoreboard with an RBI double.
Christian Parsons, who also took over pitching duties in the fourth inning for starter Brandon Boyd, drove in two on a plop double to shallow left field.
Luc Powers-Hubbard capped Sumner’s big inning with an RBI single, giving the Spartans their first lead at 4-3.
A Chris Maez RBI in the top of the seventh gave Sumner a two-run cushion.
Reece and Dorsey opened North Thurston’s half of the inning with back-to-back one-out doubles before a Hayden Maliska sacrifice fly pulled the Rams within a run at 5-4.
North Thurston began the day by defeating Fife, 4-1, in the first round, getting a stellar all-around performance from Ridgeway.
The junior pitched a complete game, giving up 1 earned run off three hits with nine strikeouts while walking just one batter.
Ridgeway was equally impressive at the plate, going 2 for 2 with a double and scoring twice.
Reece also went 2 for 2 with 2 runs and an RBI against the Trojans, while teammate Dorsey drove in a run.
The Rams scored twice in the bottom of the first.
Fife was able to cut the deficit in half at 2-1 in the fifth, but North Thurston scratched two more across in the sixth to put the game away.