Hitless in the past three games, Puyallup High junior Tyler Mcdowell was starting to get frustrated.
Teammates and coaches told him to think about hitting a home run and just clear his mind.
Message received loud and clear.
Mcdowell smacked a big three-run home run to stake top-ranked Puyallup to an early lead — in addition to tossing nearly six innings of one-run baseball — as the Vikings wrapped up the Class 4A West Central District title with a 9-3 win over Narrows League tournament champion South Kitsap at Kent Memorial Park on Saturday night.
Puyallup (22-2), the district’s top seed, opens state tournament play at 1 p.m. Saturday against Heritage at Heidelberg Park. South Kitsap (18-5) is the No. 2 seed, and plays Jackson at Kent Memorial.
Things didn’t start great on Saturday for Mcdowell, a lanky lefthander, on the mound. The Wolves scored a run off Mcdowell in the top of the first inning to take an early lead. But the Puyallup answered immediately, tying the game on Brendan Illies’ RBI single. Mcdowell followed with a towering three-run shot to right field, his second of the season.
Puyallup added to the lead in the bottom of the second, as Darian Clemens drove in a run with an RBI single and Quinn Rawson knocked in another with a double to push the score to 6-1, knocking South Kitsap starter Josh Johnson from the game.
Rawson led the offensive charge, going 3-for-4 as Puyallup banged out 13 hits.