Edmonds-Woodway books return trip to state semifinals | Baseball

Warriors upset the No. 1 ranked team in the state, advance to final four again
By David Pan | May 24, 2018
Photo by: David R Pan Edmonds-Woodway players celebrate their 11-6 victory over Capital in a state regional tournament game Saturday, May 19, at Foss High School in Tacoma. The Warriors clinched a berth in the 3A state semifinals for the second straight year.

They’re back.

A year after Edmonds-Woodway advanced to the state baseball semifinals for the first time in school history, the Warriors booked a return trip to the final four.

Edmonds-Woodway secured its spot in this year’s state semifinals with victories over top ranked Mercer Island and Capital in 3A regional action last weekend.

The Warriors jumped on Capital early, scoring seven runs in the first inning and then hung on for an 11-6 victory in a winner-to-state/loser-out regional tournament game Saturday, May 19, at Foss High School in Tacoma.

Earlier in the day, the Warriors upset Mercer Island 6-3 in another loser-out regional contest. The Islanders came into the tournament as the No. 1 ranked 3A team in the state by Maxpreps.com and the Washington High School Baseball Poll.

The rankings didn’t matter to Edmonds-Woodway, though.

For the Warriors, it was all about the work they put in day in and day out.

“We don’t have a bunch of D-1 signees. We don’t have those big-name guys,” senior shortstop/pitcher Julian Kodama said. “We just work harder than anybody in my opinion. That’s why we’re going back to state.”

At the start of the season, Edmonds-Woodway coach Dan Somoza and his players all signed their names on a poster that listed what they thought they needed to do in order get back to the state tournament.

“Our kids have a lot of heart and they’re dedicated,” Somoza said. “They believe in one another. They really came together and it’s just fun to see a team when they come together and achieve their goals. Our goal was getting to Pasco. … We visualized it and believed it and it’s happening.”

Edmonds-Woodway (16-9) is scheduled to face Kelso in a state semifinal game at 4 p.m., Friday, May 25, at Gesa Stadium in Pasco. The winner will take on either Eastside Catholic or Southridge in the 3A state championship game at 7 p.m., Saturday, May 26 at Gesa Stadium, while the loser will play for third/fourth place at 1 p.m.

The road to Pasco began with a back-and-forth clash with Mercer Island (21-2) that lasted nine innings. The Islanders took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

The Warriors responded with two runs in the bottom of the third. Senior catcher Niko Cooper singled to left field with two outs. Junior Tommy Oda and senior Jalil Marinez then drew back-to-back walks to load the bases for Kodama, who followed with a single to center field to drive in two runs. The Islanders tied the score with a run in the fifth.

Cooper again sparked Edmonds-Woodway in the seventh with a pop fly that dropped into right field with one out. Then with two outs, Marinez hit a single to center field to drive in a run to give the Warriors’ a 3-2 lead. The lead was short-lived as Mercer Island responded with a run in the bottom of the inning to tie the score at 3.

Edmonds-Woodway starter Ian Michael, who kept the Islanders largely in check, had to be lifted after seven innings due to a pitch count.

“Mercer Island has got a lineup that is just absolutely tough,” Somoza said. “Ian pitched great. He attacked them. … He threw his off-speed for strikes and our defense played great.”

Michael said the game plan was to be aggressive from start to finish.

“We were just trying to go after them,” Michael said. “We know who we are and we play our game. I think we just competed the whole way.”

Kodama, who had not been pitching due to arm issues, decided to warm up and see how he felt. The senior righthander came in and threw a scoreless eighth inning.

In the top of the ninth inning, Marinez produced yet another timely hit with the bases loaded. The senior centerfielder stroked a single to center field to drive in two runs and give Edmonds-Woodway a 5-3 lead.

“I chased a couple of pitches,” Marinez said. “I was just trying to make contact and let the magic happen.”

The Warriors added another run on a sacrifice fly by sophomore Thomas Blahous.

“Our guys never gave up,” Somoza said. “They kept battling back. Three runs in the top of the ninth was huge.”

After striking out the first Mercer Island batter, Kodama struggled to find the strike zone as the rain starting falling. He walked the next Islander before striking out the next hitter. A hit batter and a second walk loaded the bases before Kodama recorded the final out on a fly ball.

“I just kept slipping and sliding on the mound,” Kodama said. “I was just losing my footing a little bit. At the end of the day, it worked out for us. It was a little exciting.”

Edmonds-Woodway’s momentum from the victory over Mercer Island carried over against Capital with the Warriors scoring seven runs on four hits, three walks, three stolen bases (including a steal of home) and one Cougar error in the bottom of the first inning. Capital (17-8) responded with two runs in the second.

Marinez then led off the third with a triple and scored on a double by Kodama, who also came home later in the inning on a single by Blahous that extended the Edmonds-Woodway lead to 9-2.

“Jalil had quite the game. He was on fire offensively and to win games like

this you need one guy to really attack the ball,” Somoza said. “He was sort of our spark plug today.”

After the Cougars rallied for four runs in the fourth inning to cut the Edmonds-Woodway lead to 9-6, the Warriors turned to junior Logan Kruse, who shut down the Cougars the rest of the way.

The Warriors extended their lead to 11-6 with two more runs in the sixth on a double by junior Gunnar Whitlaw.

“I had my great defense backing me up,” Kruse said. “I’m not really much of a strikeout pitcher. So I got lot so ground balls and fly balls. … I was just able to mix it up and keep hitters off-balance.”

Kruse’s control has been a strength all season, Somoza said.

“When you have a big lead you want a guy to throw strikes and have them earn every single out,” he added.

“He pitched outstanding. He did what he’s done all year for us.”

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